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Live Commentary: Arsenal 3-0 Rennes (4-3 on agg) - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Arsenal's 3-0 win over Rennes, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's double sent the hosts through 4-3 on aggregate.
Live Commentary: Arsenal 3-0 Rennes (4-3 on agg) - as it happened
© Reuters

Arsenal picked up a 3-0 win over Rennes in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie at the Emirates Stadium to advance through 4-3 on aggregate.

The Gunners were ahead inside five minutes thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's close-range finish, which he followed up with an assist for Ainsley Maitland-Nile's goal 10 minutes later.

Aubameyang added a third for the home side in the second half to complete the comeback, having trailed 3-1 from the first leg seven days ago.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.

Hello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the Europa League last-16 second leg between Arsenal and Rennes at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners must recover from a two-goal deficit if they are to reach the quarter-finals in successive seasons, having collapsed in last week's reverse fixture. Unai Emery's men chucked away a one-goal lead at Roazhon Park to lose 3-1 after defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos was shown a red card, leaving them with plenty of work to do this evening.


STARTING XI: Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil; Lacazette, Aubameyang

SUBS: Leno, Mkhitaryan, Torreira, Iwobi, Suarez, Guendouzi, Nketiah


STARTING XI: Koubek; Traore, Da Silva, Mexer, Bensebaini; Sarr, Andre, Grenier, Bourigeaud; Ben Arfa, Niang

SUBS: Badiashile, Zeffane, Doumbia, Gelin, Siliki, Del Castillo, Hunou

KICKOFF:  Lacazette was cleared to play for Arsenal 48 hours before this game, so Emery makes just two changes from the weekend win over Manchester United - Cech and Mustafi come in for Leno and the suspended Soratis. It is the Gunners who get us underway here!

Unai Emery watches his Arsenal side take on Rennes in the Europa League on March 7, 2019© Reuters

It took less than a minute for one of the 5,000 travelling supporters to let off a flare behind the Rennes goal. Despite being some 40 yards from goal, Traore puts his foot through the ball and sends his attempt a fair way wide of the target.

It has been a fairly confident start from the visiting side, who know that they can afford to lose 1-0 and still go through. Ozil is unhappy not to have been given a free kick on the edge of the opposition box.


Well that didn't take long! Maitland-Niles delays the cross down the right, rolls it into the feet of Ramsey and the Welshman squares it for Aubameyang to poke home his 21st goal of the season. The Gunners now require one more goal.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates with his Arsenal teammates after opening the scoring against Rennes on March 14, 2019© Reuters

That was a well-worked goal from Arsenal, with Ramsey and Maitland-Niles linking down the right-hand side. The Gunners also scored early on in the first leg before crumbling, though - have lessons been learned? You'd certainly expect so.

Maitland-Niles plays the ball into some space down the right for Aubameyang to chase down, but Bensebaini does well to close it down at the expense of a corner. The cross into the middle is easily dealt with.

STAT! Since the inception of the Europa League in 2009-10, only one side has progressed to the following round after losing 3-1 in the first leg of a knockout tie. That was also an English team - Fulham vs. Juventus in 2009-10.

Arsenal, still needing another goal to complete the comeback, are keeping their wing-backs high up the field. Kolasinac powers down the left but his cross is cut out. The visitors are holding on and we have only played 13 minutes.

The Gunners are trying to sustain this early pressure. Rennes are starting to settle a little, but Arsenal are having plenty of joy down both flanks and it is surely a matter of when, rather than if, they will score a second.


Just like that, Rennes' first-leg lead has been wiped out. Ramsey plays the ball through for Aubameyang, who crosses towards the back post after beating the offside trap and keeping the ball in play. Maitland-Niles powers the header past Tomas Koubek to make it 3-2 to Arsenal on aggregate.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles celebrates scoring Arsenal's second goal against Rennes on March 14, 2019© Reuters

YELLOW CARD!  The game's first yellow card is shown to Mexer, who catches Lacazette with his elbow. That is a little harsh, especially considering Monreal got away with a strong challenge on Grenier a minute or so earlier.

Ramsey is pulling all the strings in midfield, four days on from being named the Man of the Match against Man United here. The Welshman has set up one goal, claimed a pre-assist for the other and is being allowed to drift around the pitch.

A quarter of the second leg has been played and Arsenal have scored the two goals they needed to make it through as things stand. Rennes have offered nothing, and with their gameplan out of the window it will be interesting to see what Stephan does next.

Ben Arfa dinks the ball over the top towards Andre, but it has a little too much on it. From their next attack, the visitors win a corner from Maitland-Niles. A few signs that the visitors are slowly growing into the match.

Replays show that Rennes' players had every right to be annoyed by Arsenal's second goal. Aubameyang definitely kept the ball in play, but he did look to be offside when collecting Ramsey's pass. There is no VAR in use today, and that has ultimately favoured the hosts.

Ramsey will argue that he got to the ball before Grenier, but the referee did not look what he saw and awards Rennes a free kick. The visitors are definitely looking more settled than they did in the first 20 minutes, but the damage has already bee done.

Da Silva is caught in the ribs by Aubameyang, leading to a stoppage in play. Like Monreal a little earlier, Aubameyang is a little lucky to avoid a caution for catching his opponent with his studs. Da Silva will be OK to continue.

Arsenal scored through their first two attempts of the match and are now, just about, in control of this tie. A goal for Rennes would make things interesting.

YELLOW CARD!  Lacazette is cautioned for flying in on Andre. That is a poor challenge from the Arsenal striker and he is rightly shown a yellow card by the referee.

Arsenal have struggled to get going over the last 15 minutes. Rennes have arguably had the better of things over that period, though the game has become incredibly stop-start. Emery will be delighted with this scoreline as we enter the final 10 minutes of the first half.

SHOT!  More good play from Arsenal as Ozil swings the ball towards the penalty spot, where Aubameyang is waiting. The striker attempts an audacious overhead kick, but he gets his contract all wrong. There is another break in play as Grenier is fouled by Ozil.

Rennes' forward players are living off scraps at the moment. Another hopeful ball is launched forward, which Arsenal deal with. It makes you wonder how the Gunners were beaten by two goals in France last week, 10 men or not.

SAVE!  This is a tame one from Ramsey, who cannot quite adjust his body shape once teed up by Ozil. The Welshman's shot is right at Koubek. Rennes are still in this tie at 2-0 down on the night, but should they concede another their task becomes a lot more difficult.

Ramsey is caught by Andre and is not looking too comfortable. The physio comes on and tries to work his magic on the Welshman's knee. This could be a big injury blow for Emery, though he will likely wait until the interval before making a change.

SAVE!  Ben Arfa cuts inside Ozil and gets a shot away, which is on target but easy for Cech to deal with. Monreal wants a penalty after being barged in the box but the overworked referee says no penalty. Ramsey is now back on the pitch.

Guendouzi and Torreira have been sent to warm up and there is a good chance we will see one of them for the start of the second half - Ramsey is not looking all that comfortable. The first half is just petering out a little now.

Four minutes have been added on at the end of the first half. The referee has had plenty to do so far, and his decision to award Ozil a free kick is greeted by cheers from the home fans. Neither team are really looking like adding to the scoring at the moment.

Traore has a good chance to get in behind Monreal for the first time tonight but his touch lets him down. A diagonal pass towards the back post is then headed back to Cech by Kolasinac in a calm manner.


Arsenal go into half time with a 2-0 lead over Rennes on the night, courtesy of goals form Aubameyang and Maitland-Niles. That will be enough to take them through on away goals, so the onus is on the visitors to find a goal in the second half.

Aiming to become just the second team in Europa League history to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit, after Fulham against Juventus in 2010, Arsenal took no time at all to level up the tie on aggregate. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring five minutes in when poking home an Aaron Ramsey cross, coming after some good link-up play between the Welshman and Ainsley Maitland-Niles down the right.

Maitland-Niles was being given plenty of room down the right-hand side and he made the most of that 10 minutes later when heading Aubameyang's cross past Tomas Koubek. Aubameyang kept Ramsey's pass in play, but the Gabonese striker looked to be stood in an offside position before picking out Maitland-Niles at the back post.

A weak Ramsey attempt aside, which was aimed right at Koubek with the midfielder slightly off balance, Arsenal struggled to create any further clear-cut openings in a stop-start first half that contained a number of careless challenges. For their part, Rennes grew into the match a little more following a sluggish start and tested Petr Cech before half time through a long-range strike from Hatem Ben Arfa.


ARSENAL SUBS: Leno, Mkhitaryan, Torreira, Iwobi, Suarez, Guendouzi, Nketiah

RENNES SUBS: Badiashile, Zeffane, Doumbia, Gelin, Siliki, Del Castillo, Hunou

KICKOFF:  Rennes get us back underway at the Emirates Stadium! There were no changes made at the interval, so Ramsey has obviously recovered from that injury picked up towards the end of the first half.

OFF THE POST!  Mustafi is caught on the ball by Grenier and the Rennes midfielder lays it off for Sarr, whose shot comes back off the post - a real let-off for the home side! Cech may well have got a slight touch to the ball to keep out his former club.

Lacazette gets his head to a free kick lofted into the box but is unable to find the target. Arsenal have dropped off since scoring two quickfire goals early on, but they have stepped things up again now. Aubameyang gets on the end of Ramsey's pass ahead of Koubek but cannot find the net or a teammate.

Ramsey is caught by Grenier and wins his side a free kick. Ozil's delivery is aimed deep but Mustafi is penalised for jumping into his opponent. Arsenal could do with a third goal to make this a little more comfortable for themselves.

Nearly 10 minutes of the second half played and it is Rennes who have come closest to scoring the game's third goal, with Sarr hitting the post. Xhaka is caught on the ankle by Sarr - there has been an incredible number of fouls in this match.

The stop-start feel to the match continues. Lacazette follows through on Bensebaini, who stays on the floor. The referee has once again been surrounded by players from both sides. Andris Treimanis is right to award the free kick and nothing else.

YELLOW CARD!  Grenier is shown a yellow card by the referee for dissent. The Rennes midfielder has been constantly in the official's ear, so he can have no complaints. The Arsenal fans enjoyed that!

A cross from the right is routinely dealt with by Cech. Arsenal supporters are now urging their side on, having seen their players struggle to get out of their slump. Emery may well be considering a change or two with an hour gone.

Kolasinac is challenged by Andre, who did get a bit of the ball first. This match can now officially fall into the 'ill-tempered' category. At least the match has an edge to it, I guess.

Errors galore out on the pitch in this second half. Arsenal have been pretty poor over these last 15 minutes, struggling to really create anything. A cross from the left is cut out before Lacazette can get on the end of it.

SHOT!  This is a brilliant block from Kolasinac, throwing his body in the way of Sarr's goal-bound strike. The Rennes midfielder carried the ball down the right-hand side and his eyes must have lit up when he saw the goal in front of him.

Arsenal fans can be forgiven for feeling a little nervy with a quarter of the match to play. Rennes are the side on top, forcing a corner out of Koscielny, and only need one goal to take control of the tie once again.

OFFSIDE! Bensebaini's technique is superb, firing a low volley across Cech and against the opposite post to the one Sarr hit a little earlier in the half, but the offside flag would have denied him anyway.

Still the challenges are flying in. This is turning into quite the battle for Arsenal, who are doing just about enough to ensure they will be in the draw for the quarter-final tomorrow. Emery is readying a couple of players to come on...

ARSENAL SUBS! Lacazette and Ozil are replaced by Mkhitaryan and Iwobi for the remaining 20 minutes, which should give Arsenal some more balance in midfield. The Gunners are heading through on away goals as things stand.

CLOSE!  Iwobi opens up the shot on his left foot and drags it wide of the target from the edge of the box. That has to go down as a good chance for the substitute, who has only been on the field for a couple of minutes.

In the middle of all that, Rennes brought on Hunou for Grenier.


Emery may only have made his double change a few minutes ago, but it has already paid off massively. Mkhitaryan picks the right pass by slotting it down the left for Kolasinac, who plays it across goal for another simple finish for Aubameyang.

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dons a mask after bagging his second against Rennes on March 14, 2019© Reuters

YELLOW CARD!  Aubameyang was shown a yellow card in the aftermath of the goal, presumably for his celebration as he put on a mask. He is not at risk of a suspension... unless he picks up another booking today, of course!

That goal from Aubameyang was a classic case of not actually changing a great deal. Rennes still need one goal, though if they score it the game will now go to extra time. You could say it has provided Arsenal with a safety net.

YELLOW CARD!  Rennes are running out of time to find a goal that would salvage extra time. Stephan is holding off from making his second change. Mkhitaryan is cautioned for catching his opponent and breaking up play in the process.

RENNES SUB! Stephan turns to his bench by bringing on Siliki for Andre. The visitors have lost their rhythm, not helped by the constant stoppages. Da Silva again goes to the ground, but he is going to soldier on.

YELLOW CARD!  Bourigeaud is the latest player to be shown a yellow card, again for a show of dissent. Rennes are playing like a side with nothing to play for, but all they need is one goal. Arsenal are not over the line just yet.

CHANCE!  Aubameyang wastes the chance to complete his hat-trick as he pokes the ball past the post with just Koubek to beat. Credit to the Rennes keeper for staying big, not allowing the striker to chip it over him.

CHANCE!  Make that two big chances missed by Aubameyang to complete his hat-trick. Iwobi carries the ball forward and pokes it through to Ramsey, who unselfishly sets it up for Aubameyang to strike first time. The ball trickles wide of the far post.

ARSENAL SUB! Ramsey is given a good applause from the home fans as he makes his way off the field, replaced by Torreira for the closing stages. It is surely job done for Emery's men at this point.

SAVE!  Cech makes a good save to keep out Hunou's shot. The former Rennes keeper is caught by Hunou in the process, leaving him in need of some treatment. Arsenal have used all three of their subs so they will be hopeful Cech gets back to his feet.

Veteran keeper Cech is OK to continue after receiving some treatment. Five minutes have been added on at the end of this second leg, with Rennes now requiring a couple of goals to progress through. One will take us to extra time.

The offside flag goes up against lively substitute Hunou, though he could only pick out the side-netting of his shot anyway. Hunou and Ben Arfa have really come to life over the past few minutes, giving Arsenal's defenders plenty to think about.

YELLOW CARD!  Arsenal, having looked very composed when Aubameyang scored his second of the game, are now looking nervy all of a sudden. The visitors have a couple of minutes to find a goal that will take us to extra time. Kolasinac is booked for wasting time.

Traore is cautioned and the away fans do not like that decision. It appears as though they are throwing bottles onto the pitch. Iwobi was fortunate to avoid being sent off before all that as he kicked out at Traore - the referee clearly did not see it.



Arsenal join Chelsea in the proverbial hat for Friday morning's Europa League quarter-finals draw. The Gunners, trailing 3-1 from the first leg, looked nervy at times but they got the job done - that is all that matters. Aubameyang scored twice for the home team, either side of setting up a goal for Maitland-Niles that should not have stood because of an offside infringement.

That concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events from the Emirates Stadium. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, and be sure to check in tomorrow morning as we bring you news on who will face who in the last eight. Thanks for joining!

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Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil celebrates after scoring against Bournemouth in the Premier League on February 27, 2019
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