Arsenal confirmed their place in the final of the Europa League with a 2-4 win over Valencia in the second leg of the semi-final played at the Mestalla. Alexandre Lacazette scored one while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang notched up a hat-trick on the night to lead the Gunners in the Grand Finale, where they will face Chelsea. Valencia showed a little bit of resurgence via two goals from Kevin Gameiro, but it proved futile in stopping them from getting over the line.
The north London side faced an early setback as the hosts drew first blood in the 11th minute of the match. They replied in the 17th minute via Aubameyang but gave away a soft goal in the second half as Gameiro picked up his second of the evening. Lacazette levelled things for his side with a good strike, and then it was all Aubameyang for the Gunners. The Gabonese striker was quick to latch on opportunities and shot his team into the final with two sweet finishes. It also ended all hopes for the hosts to pull off a late surprise, which has been the trend of the season so far in the European competitions.
Here is how the Arsenal players were rated from their win against Valencia.
Petr Čech: 6
Did not have the best of outings but did enough to get his side over the line. Could have done better to prevent Gameiro from scoring the second.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 6.5
Kept getting behind the ball whenever Gameiro was on it. Could have done better in not letting the Valencia striker score his second of the night.
Laurent Koscielny: 7
Put in a substantial shift to safeguard the backline throughout the match. Vied valiantly for the ball against the opposition attackers and won most of the tackles.
Nacho Monreal: 6.5
Looked a little troubled in the first quarter of the match but regained his composure as the game progressed. Picked up a few knocks as well.
Sead Kolašinac: 6
Kept getting up the pitch and delivered some excellent passes into the box. His backtracking looked a little wayward though.
Granit Xhaka: 6
Looked a little on the back foot against the likes of Soler and Parejo while vying for the ball. Threaded some good passes through.
Lucas Torreira: 7
Ran all over the pitch and snatched the ball away from the opposition. Initiated a few attacks from the midfield with well-directed passes, one of which led to Lacazette’s only goal of the night.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 7.5
Kept tormenting the opposition defence with his classy footwork throughout the match. Assisted Aubameyang with an inch-perfect pass. His backtracking was spot on as well as he did not leave an inch for Guedes or Gaya to capitalise on.
Mesut Özil: 6.5
Controlled the ball well in the middle of the pitch and kept getting it into the box to assist the strikers. Looked less than useful in the second half and was substituted.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 9.5
His pace, his guile and the accuracy on his shots were too hard to handle for the Valencia defenders. Opened the scoring with an exceptional finish and then got his side in front in the second half with an even better goal. His best was the third one as he rocketed it into the net after playing a delightful one-two with Guendouzi. Full marks for that somersault celebration though.
Alexandre Lacazette: 8.5
Got out of the blocks very quickly before Gabriel had a clue to notch up the second goal for his side. Was unlucky not to have a brace to his name as he hit the post off Aubameyang’s inch-perfect cross. Also, let us not forget the assist for the Gabonese’s first goal of the night.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 6
Did well since coming on for Ozil. Assisted Aubameyang with a well-directed ball to complete his hat-trick.
Shkodran Mustafi: 6
Kept his composure high for the limited time he was on the pitch.
Mattéo Guendouzi: 6.5
Was the perfect substitute for Torreira as he kept getting the passes to initiate attacks from the midfield. Played a brilliant one-two with Aubameyang en route to the latter’s hat-trick goal.
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