Aubameyang bags two as Arsenal turns it around

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With the Ligue 1 side leading 3-1 from the first leg, Aubameyang and Ainsley Maitland-Niles scored in the first 15 minutes of Friday's (NZDT) return to draw Arsenal level on aggregate.

Rennes had chances to snatch a last-eight spot at Emirates Stadium on Thursday, with M'Baye Niang cracking a strike against the post at 3-3, but Aubameyang struck again in the 72nd minute.

Only one side in Europa League knockout history had previously successfully overturned a 3-1 first-leg defeat - Fulham downing Serie A giant Juventus in 2009-2010 - but Arsenal moved into the quarters, where it could face London rival Chelsea.

Arsenal needed a fast start and they got one, opening the scoring in the fifth minute when Maitland-Niles and Aaron Ramsey combined down the right channel to tee up Aubameyang for a simple close-range finish.

And the Gunners were soon on level terms in the tie, Maitland-Niles arriving at the back post to steer home a downward header from Aubameyang's cross, Rennes having paused for an offside flag that did not come.

But Arsenal's tempo slipped and a run from Hatem Ben Arfa - an outcast under current Gunners boss Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain - ended with a tame shot at Petr Cech.

A buoyed Rennes then hit the post after the restart, Niang beating former Rennes goalkeeper Cech but not the woodwork after Shkodran Mustafi gave the ball away near his own box.

Substitute Alex Iwobi rifled wide from the edge of the penalty area as Arsenal tried to settle the tie before Aubameyang came up with what proved the decisive goal in the 72nd minute.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan sent Sead Kolasinac clear into space on the left wing to deliver a low cross and Aubameyang was there to tuck home, celebrating the goal by wearing a Black Panther mask.