Advantage Arsenal for Europa final thanks to...
ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE gunned down Valencia last night as Arsenal took a giant step towards the Europa League final.
Lacazette’s brace and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s late effort put Unai Emery’s side in a strong position, though Mouctar diakhaby’s away goal gives Valencia hope.
in Frankfurt, Pedro scored a precious away goal for Chelsea as Maurizio Sarri’s men secured a 1-1 draw in their first leg, setting up a potential all-London final.
Lacazette said: ‘We want Champions
League so if we win (the Europa League) we go straight there.’ With Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League via the Premier League in the balance, winning the Europa League now looks the club’s best chance of returning to European football’s top table. Lacazette added: ‘Of course, it is another trophy for this team. We want to go to the final in Baku. But we know it’s going to be hard in their stadium. I had two good balls from my team, so thank you to them. We conceded the first goal and we knew they were good on set pieces — at this moment we concede too many goal on set pieces. We need to be careful on this for second leg.’ Aubameyang believes his late third goal could prove decisive in the tie, saying: ‘I hope it will be important. We started not so good, but we had a good reaction and we played very well. ‘We started a bit nervously because we’d lost our last three games, I think that’s normal. ‘We are human, but after that we had a good reaction. We have a lot of quality in this group and we can go to the final. It’s our target to reach the final and win this trophy. ‘We know it’s an opportunity to qualify for next year’s Champions League. We stopped in the semi-finals last year but we have learned from last year’s errors and hopefully this year we won’t do the same.’ Emery praised his team’s fighting spirit in hitting back after Diakhaby’s early goal. He said: ‘We wanted a good result here, but achieving it was difficult. After the first goal, our response was very good. We took our chances and two goals in the first half gave us confidence. ‘We needed better control. The second half was more normal and the third goal was coming at the end, and was important. ‘Generally after the first 90 minutes we can be happy. With the same passion, we now prepare for the second leg. It will be difficult.’
Top Gunners: Lacazette celebrates his leveller with Aubameyang (top) GETTY IMAGES
Praise: Emery REX SHUTTERSTOCK