Arsenal face Olympiacos rematch in Europa League last-16 after thrilling win over Benfica in Athens

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Simon Collings
·2-min read
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<p>Arsenal won a thrilling tie against Benfica in Athens</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal won a thrilling tie against Benfica in Athens

(AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal will get the chance to exact revenge on Olympiacos for knocking them out of last season’s Europa League after the pair were drawn together in the last-16 of this year’s competition.

The Gunners, who beat Benfica 3-2 on Thursday night in their last-32 second-leg to progress 4-3 on aggregate, were defeated by Olympiacos at that stage last season.

The Greek side scored a last-minute winner to break Arsenal hearts at Emirates Stadium, but Mikel Arteta’s side will now look to avenge that shock defeat.

Arsenal’s clash with Olympiacos sees them return to familiar territory as it was in the Greek side’s Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium that they beat Benfica on Thursday.

The second leg was being played in Athens as travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic meant it couldn’t be played in London.

Arsenal made hard work of the victory as with 29 minutes of the second leg left they were trailing 2-1.

Given Benfica had scored two away goals in Athens — courtesy of Diogo Goncalves’s stunning free-kick and Rafa Silva latching on to Dani Ceballos’ poor defensive header — Arsenal needed to strike twice to stay in the competition.

The odds looked against Arteta’s side, but Kieran Tierney lashed home in the 67th minute and then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got his second of the night three minutes from the end by heading home Bukayo Saka’s cross.

“We all make mistakes all the time — sometimes they get punished and sometimes they don’t but in European competition they are going to [get punished] and they did,” said Tierney afterwards.

“We bounced back the best way we possibly could and I think it is a good step for us to show we can face adversity, come back and go through. We never seem to do it the easy way. But credit to the boys, we had some tough moments out there and some setbacks but to bounce back, score and go through to the next round, is all that matters.

“We are not looking too far ahead, we have a big game on Sunday [against Leicester] as well. The games are coming fast right now so we can only look at one game at a time.”

The result was huge for Arsenal, who are out of the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and 11th in the Premier League, as it keeps their season alive.

“When you concede a second one, you know that you have to score two goals again, so it’s really hard, but as I said, we showed character and we kept calm during the whole match,” said Aubameyang.

“I think in this difficult season, hopefully this will give us some hope, but also some confidence for the future that we can do comebacks like this.”

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