Arsenal take the lead in UEL semi-final vs Valencia CF (3-1)
2 May, 2019
Arsenal were in action at the Emirates Stadium for the first leg of the Europa League semi-final against Valencia CF.
The match didn’t begin well for Arsenal; Garay had an early chance to open the scoring but blazed over the bar, and then Diakhaby put Valencia ahead in the 11th minute with a header from a set-piece. The response from the home side was excellent and the equaliser arrived just seven minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette played Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through with a perfectly weighted pass, the Gabon international drew the defenders across to the right before laying the ball back across to Lacazette, who stroked the ball past Neto. The Emirates Stadium roared and Arsenal were back in the game. Less than ten minutes later, Arsenal had taken the lead. Granit Xhaka’s inch-perfect cross to the back post found Lacazette, and Neto was unable to keep his header out.
The second half saw Arsenal looking to extend their lead and Valencia working hard to contain the home side and cause problems on the break. Lacazatte had a great chance to score his hat-trick, but Neto made a superb double save to keep him out. Arsenal continued to push for the all-important third goal but needed to be on their toes in defence at all times. Laurent Koscielny was putting in a captain’s performance at the back, making a crucial clearing header to deny Guedes and fighting through a knock to throw himself into various important tackles. When it seemed that Arsenal might have to settle for a single-goal lead, Aubamayeng got on the end of cross at the back post to snatch a third goal. The team know there’s still a lot of work to be done next week at Mestalla if they want to make it through to the Europa League final.
Unai Emery’s Arsenal team now focus on this weekend’s Premier League fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium.