Arsenal get away goal as first leg of Benfica clash in Europa League ends level

Date published: Thursday 18th February 2021 9:52 - Samuel Bannister

Arsenal came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw in the away leg of their Europa League Round of 32 clash with Benfica.

Playing the away leg against their Portuguese opponents in Italy’s Stadio Olimpico before the second leg in Greece next week, there was nothing to separate the two sides.

Arsenal fielded a rare unchanged lineup for the game, which meant Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continued up front.

Fresh from scoring a hat-trick in his last league game, the striker inexplicably missed a golden chance to put Arsenal in front when failing to tap Hector Bellerin’s ball across the box into the gaping net.

Arsenal had to stay alert towards the end of the first half when Granit Xhaka gave away possession in a dangerous area. Benfica tried to work a chance, but Dani Ceballos deflected the ball behind to avert the danger.

The second half did not get off to an ideal start for Arsenal. Benfica were awarded a penalty when the ball hit Emile Smith Rowe’s arm in the box.

Pizzi finished from 12 yards to give the Portuguese side the advantage.

Instant response from Arsenal

Arsenal equalised soon after, though. Martin Odegaard split the defence with a pass to Cedric Soares, who sent the ball across the face of goal.

Bukayo Saka was on hand to tap home to restore parity just two minutes after Arsenal had gone behind.

VAR checked to see if there had been an offside in the buildup, but the goal stood.

There were further chances for either side, but neither were able to add to their goal tally.

It leaves the tie delicately poised ahead of their reunion in Greece for Arsenal’s ‘home’ leg next week.

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