Read All Newspapers in one Place - Download our App for free. DOWNLOAD
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hat-trick to fire Arsenal into the Europa League final as the Gunners secured a 4-2 (7-3 aggregate) win over Valencia at the Mestalla on Thursday night. Unai Emery’s side came into the clash in Spain in control of the semi-final tie, having won the first leg 3-1 in London last week, but the visitors were handed an early scare when Kevin Gameiro opened the scoring on his 32nd birthday. Aubameyang superbly equalised just six minutes later, however, before Alexandre Lacazette struck in the 50th minute – all of which meant Valencia had a steep mountain to climb even with Gameiro’s scrappy second of the night. And when Aubameyang then bundled in Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ cross in the 69th minute, and subsequently fired into the roof of the net late on, it proved too much for the Spanish side as Arsenal kept their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League alive. Arsenal’s task of progressing to the final was made that much more difficult by the Valencia fans, who had been urged by coach Marcelino to make the Mestalla a daunting cauldron of noise that would successfully be able to put the Gunners off their game and help the hosts to an early goal. And, after hundreds of Valencia supporters lined the streets outside the Mestalla to thunderously whistle the Arsenal team bus as it arrived, it seemed the plan to use the home fans was working. Indeed, it was Valencia who took the lead first – and within just 11 minutes – after Maitland-Niles’ effort was blocked by Neto which allowed the Spanish side to launch a swift counter-attack. Rodrigo used his pace to get down the left flank and, after his cross took a deflection, Gameiro pounced on to the ball to drive it beyond Petr Cech. The goal sent the home fans wild and they could have been celebrating a second just three minutes later but Rodrigo saw his close-range effort blocked. With the atmosphere raucous and Valencia seemingly in the ascendancy, there was a real worry that Arsenal might be on the verge of folding. But Aubameyang – as in the first leg when he netted in added time – came to the rescue with yet another crucial strike for the Gunners. His goal came on the back of a defensive error from the hosts, with Gabriel failing to win an aerial ball which Lacazette instead won and headed into the path of Aubameyang, who raced onto it and struck the ball with the outside of his boot to restore parity on the night. Arsenal were creating chances and they could have scored another goal, but Aubameyang’s low shot was claimed by Neto, which worked to dampen Valencia’s spirit for a while. But Marcelino’s men picked themselves back up to win a free-kick in a dangerous position in the 34th minute, which captain Daniel Parejo drove inches wide. They even had a penalty appeal when Maitland-Niles appeared to catch Jose Gaya inside the area, but the Valencia man was instead booked for diving. Despite looking dangerous every time they went on the attack, Valencia were too prone to counter-attacks and errors down the other end of the pitch. And Arsenal should have punished the hosts in the 39th minute when Aubameyang cut the ball back to Lacazette who, despite having time and space to pick out his shot, ended up clipping the post with an effort that flew just wide. But the pair weren’t done just yet. In the 50th minute, Aubameyang won the ball back from the hosts before sending it to Lucas Torreira, who subseqently fed Lacazette in the left of the box. The striker, who scored twice in the first leg, latched onto the midfielder’s pass and, after taking two touches, drove past Neto to put Arsenal 5-2 ahead in the tie. Valencia looked spent and out of the contest, but somehow they got another goal back – although it was a scrappy one. Rodrigo’s shot hit Gameiro and the striker bundled the ball over the line with Arsenal caught napping. Ezequiel Garay then threatened to score again as he saw his shot hurtle wide but, in what was proving a theme in an entertaining game, Arsenal scored – and it was Aubameyang once again. After Maitland-Niles crossed the ball into the box from the right, Aubameyang bundled in before firing into the roof of the net from substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s pass to extinguish Valencia’s hopes. Indeed, Arsenal saw out the rest of the game comfortably as they celebrated a rare away win that puts them in the final, where Emery and his men will have the chance to not only secure Champions League football but do so by winning a trophy in what has been a season of change and transition for the north Londoners. Relive Valencia vs Arsenal LIVE with Standard Sport! Live Updates 2019-05-09T21:24:43.190Z We still don’t know who Arsenal’s Europa League final opponents will be. Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt have just reached half-time in extra time at Stamford Bridge. 15 more minutes and then penalties to decide it. 2019-05-09T21:08:54.470Z Alexandre Lacazette has also been speaking to BT “We reacted well to going behind and we knew we had to score a minimum of one goal tonight. Auba was unbelievable tonight with an incredible hat-trick, so thanks to him.”We have played badly in Premier League during the last month and now we have to use this opportunity. We want to play in the Champions League next season and we want the trophy.” 2019-05-09T21:00:26.980Z Hat-trick hero Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tells BT his side have learnt from last season’s semi-final defeat…”It means a lot. We’ve learned from last season. This year we didn’t make the same mistakes and we’re through to the final.”When you win games like this you feel very good.” 2019-05-09T20:55:20.273Z A terrific performance from Arsenal’s front men. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette scored all seven of the Gunners’ goals in this tie. A brilliant performance. FULL TIME 2019-05-09T20:50:04.476Z FULL TIME | Valencia 2-4 Arsenal | (Arsenal win 7-3 on aggregate) GOAL! 2019-05-09T20:47:44.643Z 89 mins: Hat-trick for Aubameyang! It’s a beautiful goal, albeit against a Valencia team who have pretty much stopped running. Aubameyang exchanges about five passes with Guendouzi, feigning keep ball on the right, before he suddenly dummies over one, allowing it to run on to Mkhitaryan. He’s carried on his run and gets it back, but there’s still a lot to do from a tight angle. Smash, into the roof of the net. 2019-05-09T20:46:11.556Z GOAL! | Valencia 2-4 Arsenal | Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 89′ 2019-05-09T20:41:28.780Z 84 mins: Almost another for Arsenal! Mkhitaryan pinches it and goes forward, looking to find Aubameyang on a hat-trick at the back post but Gabriel gets a crucial touch to send it behind for a corner. 2019-05-09T20:40:12.896Z 83 mins: Decent strike form Gaya and it gets an appreciative round of applause from the home crowd, but was always going just wide. This has petered out. SUBS 2019-05-09T20:36:49.893Z 80 mins: Matteo Guendouzi is coming on for Arsenal to inject some fresh legs, and it’ll be Lucas Torreira who makes way. 2019-05-09T20:34:26.993Z 76 mins: Valencia are still trying here, and to be honest, Arsenal still look more than a bit shoddy at the back, but they just are not a team that scores goals. It’s telling that the two they’ve scored tonight have involved a bit of good fortune with a tap-in at the end. Arsenal have been clinical. 2019-05-09T20:30:23.853Z That should quieten them down. SUBS 2019-05-09T20:28:35.613Z 71 mins: Shkodran Mustafi has come on for Kolasinac, who was struggling a bit with cramp, I think. Nacho Monreal will push out to left wing back. GOAL! 2019-05-09T20:27:27.160Z 69 mins: And that really should be that. Maitland-Niles, fair play to the lad, he’s been given the run around, but that’s a corking delivery, whipped low in to the near post, and Aubameyang as ever is the sharpest to react and poke home. 2019-05-09T20:26:20.960Z GOAL! | Valencia 2-3 Arsenal | Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 69′ 2019-05-09T20:22:22.576Z 65 mins: Well if they get another one now it really will be game on. Garay takes matters into his own hands and hammers in a cracker from 30 yards and it whistles a whisker wide. SUBS 2019-05-09T20:20:05.386Z 62 mins: Mesut Ozil gets an absolute earful from the home crowd as he takes his time walking off the pitch to be replaced by Henrikh Mhkitaryan. He gives them a shush. ES COVERAGE 2019-05-09T20:18:23.870Z Vaishali Bhardwaj is at the MestallaLacazette’s goal looks to have put Arsenal into the Europa League final but the visitors keep on letting Valencia regain that glimmer of hope that they can launch a comeback of epic proportions. The question is can they – without conceding? 2019-05-09T20:17:41.146Z 59 mins: Here we go again…It’s as scrappy as they come, but a bit of hope for the home side, as one bobbles it’s way through to Gameiro. Not dissimilar to the first goal, he’s in the right place at the back post to take advantage, and though Cech gets a hand to his first effort, he can’t stop the follow up. 2019-05-09T20:15:41.903Z GOAL! | Valencia 2-2 Arsenal | Kevin Gameiro 58′ Can’t see the blog? Click here for the desktop version.