Ceballos almost threw away Arsenal's Europa League dream but Aubameyang, Tierney and Saka saved them against Benfica
ARSENAL – or rather Dani Ceballos – almost threw away their Europa League dream before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saved them.
They eventually bounced back in a rollercoaster of a tie to deservedly progress 4-3 on aggregate and past Benfica into the last-16.
Here's how Gary Stonehouse rated each of Mikel Arteta's Arsenal men after their skipper sealed a late victory:
Leno – 5
His 60th appearance in European club football but he failed to mark it with a clean sheet.
Had little to do in the first half and could do nothing about the free-kick.
Was left in no man’s land by Ceballos for the second – although some could argue he should have been screaming at his team-mate just to clear his lines.
Bellerin – 6
Got up really well down the flank in the second period after having very little to do in the first half.
The full-back continued to get further upfield and linked up well with Odegaard.
Luiz – 6
Looked to be in control during the opening 45 minutes but was beaten in the air by ex-Tottenham star Jan Vertonghen at a set-piece for a slight scare.
Once the equaliser went in he and his defensive colleagues faced a spell of pressure but saw them storm out well.
Looked to be in for an easy second half until disaster-struck courtesy of Ceballos and was then guilty of some miscommunication that allowed Benfica another opportunity.
At the age of 33, it doesn’t look like the Brazilian will ever learn to defend first and ask questions later.
Gabriel – 6
Despite conceding twice, both he and Luiz did not have much to do and neither could do anything about the goals.
As they pressed for an equaliser he produced a sloppy square-ball that was almost punished.
Gooners will continue to sit on the edge of their seats for all the wrong reasons until Mikel Arteta manages to get in a no nonsense centre-half.
Tierney – 8
Arsenal’s Mr Reliable this season was once again the heartbeat of his side and gave it his all again for the Gunners.
His defensive qualities are sometimes questioned, but who cares when he can produce a finish like a seasoned striker.
His left-foot rifle got them level and he continued to be a danger down the left wing alongside Willian until the very end.
Ceballos – 4
Almost carved out a great opening for Saka with a delightful defence-splitting pass only for the attacker to go a split-second early and be flagged offside.
But seconds later he gave away a needless free-kick on the edge of the box and it proved costly as Diogo Goncalves superbly curled over the wall and past Leno.
Just as Arsenal looked to be back in control the midfielder suffered another nightmare in what proved to be his final touch as his poor header back to Leno was cut out and punished by Rafa Silva.
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Xhaka – 7
Not known for his attacking prowess, attempted to break the deadlock with a long-ranger inside the opening ten minutes.
Got around the pitch well and tried to help his team win back the ball as high as possible.
Smith Rowe – 5
An unfortunate night for the youngster that lasted less than an hour with very little created.
Struggled to create much, and as soon as the Gunners fell behind, he was replaced by the more experienced Willian.
Odegaard – 6
The Norwegian looked comfortable on the ball throughout but needs to turn that possession into something purposeful.
He almost did that by sliding in Aubameyang only for the striker to be denied a brace courtesy of VAR.
Saka – 8
The kid just gets better and better and he is fast becoming one of, if not THE, key man for Arsenal.
Produced a sublime pass for Aubameyang’s opener and if he had held his line a little longer he would have been in himself before the break after Ceballos’ through ball.
And just as it looked like Arsenal were going out, he cut inside and whipped a delightful cross to the back post to Aubameyang to tap home.
He has 18 assists now since the start of last season – more than any other player.
Aubameyang – 8
After his horror miss in the first leg, he looked to bounce back early tonight when cutting in from left and unleashing a curler that was easily gathered by the keeper.
And not long after he broke the deadlock with a delightful finish from the Gunners’ main man with a chip over the keeper after beating the offside trap to latch on to Saka’s pass.
Moments after the restart he was on the wrong side of VAR when what looked to be a second was ruled out for offside.
But the skipper popped up with the crucial goal right at the death to secure a spot in the last-16.
Partey – 5
There were acres for Benfica to get into in the middle following his arrival.
He was brought on to try and stop that and ensure his team got the ball back, but the Portuguese giants were able to keep the ball and continue finding the space.
Willian – 7
Made an instant impact as he showed a bit of urgency to beat his man and tee-up Tierney to make it 2-2.
Lacazette – 5
Sent on by Arteta with just over ten minutes remaining but made little to no impact.
Chambers – NA
Elneny – NA
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