Arsenal kept their European campaign alive and kicking this evening, courtesy of a nail-biting victory over Benfica.

Auba at the double

Mikel Arteta’s men made the trip to Greece a short time ago, for the 2nd-leg of their Europa League Last-32 showdown with the Portuguese giants.

The tie of course sat on a knife-edge ahead of kick-off, on the back of a 1-1 stalemate in the opener between the sides last week.

Arsenal were aware ahead of proceedings getting underway that their season, as a whole, essentially rested on the outcome of the action in Attica, with the north Londoners languishing in mid-table in the Premier League, 6 points adrift of the top-6.

As such, hearts were no doubt in Gunners mouths across the globe when, after taking the lead through Pierre-Emerick’s cute dinked finish, Benfica turned the tie on its head just past the hour mark.

Diogo Goncalves was first on target , rifling home a stunning free-kick, before Rafa Silva took full advantage of a Dani Ceballos mistake to round Bernd Leno and slot home.

What a free-kick from Diogo Goncalves! 🚀

Bernd Leno had absolutely no chance and Arsenal’s tie with Benfica is wide open once again! 😧 pic.twitter.com/LcjhwE5y2L

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 25, 2021

Arsenal, however, showcased impressive steel to pull level a little over 20 minutes from time, when Kieran Tierney picked out the far corner with a rasping drive:

A lifeline for Arsenal from Kieran Tierney!

Six minutes after going 2-1 down vs. Benfica, the left-back steps up with an excellent low finish to give his team hope! 🎯 pic.twitter.com/zr5LDJeSGs

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 25, 2021

Then, with 87 minutes on the clock, and hopes fading fast, the Gunners came up with the evening’s telling moment.

A wonderful piece of skill and subsequent cross on the part of Bukayo Saka saw the teenage talent’s delivery nodded home at the back post by Aubameyang, to secure a 3-2 win on the night, and 4-3 victory on aggregate:

Arsenal strike late to save their season against Benfica!

Saka and Aubameyang combine AGAIN when it matters most to put the Gunners ahead! 🤝 pic.twitter.com/e9aazd58lR

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 25, 2021

Starboy

On the back of proceedings coming to a close at the Karaiskakis Stadium, most would likely have envisioned Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stealing the headlines, on the back of a match-winning brace this evening.

However, this has since proven far from the case.

Whilst Arsenal’s captain of course proved crucial versus Benfica, he was not the true catalyst en route to victory for Mikel Arteta and co.

This title goes to the ever-impressive Bukayo Saka.

It is starting to feel as though each and every time he steps onto the pitch, the 19-year-old is primed to come up with a telling contribution, and tonight proved no different.

After bagging the assist for Aubameyang’s opener, as outlined above, Saka was also responsible for Arsenal’s winner, courtesy of a moment of brilliance befitting of a player far beyond his years.

8 – Since the start of last season, no player has provided more assists in the UEFA Europa League than Bukayo Saka (8). Saviour. pic.twitter.com/zKeoKQYHxO

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 25, 2021

In turn, it has since come as little surprise to see Saka’s name take centre stage online, with some of the social media highlights showcased below:

Saka is such a good player. Such a maturity and intelligence for his age. Game changer.

— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) February 25, 2021

I’m running out of words to describe just how good Bukayo Saka is at football.

— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) February 25, 2021

Saka. Again. The difference maker. 🔥

— Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71) February 25, 2021

Bukayo Saka is as clutch an Arsenal player as I can remember for a very, very long time!

— James Benge (@jamesbenge) February 25, 2021

Arsenal back in front. Saka to Aubameyang. Saka, the 19-year-old saving Arsenal week-in and week-out.

— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) February 25, 2021

YOUR WEEKLY REMINDER THAT BUKAYO SAKA IS THE GREATEST LEFT FOOTED PLAYER WHO HAS EVER GRACED THE PLANET

— Chris Dixon (@chrismd10) February 25, 2021

Arteta put Saka at right-back to accommodate bringing a 5th attacker on (Lacazette).

And it was still Saka who popped up with the game-winning moment.

Sums up his incredible versatility.

— Premier League Panel (@PremLeaguePanel) February 25, 2021

Saka’s first assist gets better with every watch. He absolutely murders five defenders with one pass. It’s the kind of pass Bergkamp used to make.

— GoonerTalk (@GoonerTaIk) February 25, 2021

📊 Bukayo Saka’s performance vs. Benfica (Source: Sofa Score):

⏱️ 89 minutes
🦶 57 touches
✅ 34 acc. passes
💪 2 tackles
📊 5 duels won
🔮 2 big chances created
🎯 2 assists

⭐ Starboy. pic.twitter.com/9FdiPZl27c

— The Arsenal Review (@thearsreview) February 25, 2021

 

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