Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his first goal away from home in this season’s Europa League to draw Arsenal level

A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hat-trick helped Arsenal into the final of the Europa League as they won in Valencia for a 7-3 aggregate victory.

The Gunners are now just one win away from Champions League qualification, while manager Unai Emery can make history by winning a record fourth Europa League crown.

Trailing 3-1 from the first leg in London, Kevin Gameiro’s close-range effort had given the hosts the early impetus.

However, Aubameyang’s right-foot volley from 20 yards levelled matters before Alexandre Lacazette put Arsenal ahead with a placed effort into the right corner.

Gameiro, a four-time winner of the competition at Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, tapped in Valencia’s second of the night before Aubameyang rounded off the scoring.

The Gabon forward slid in from Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ cross and then blasted emphatically into the top corner late on to complete his hat-trick and a 4-2 win.

It means Arsenal, whose first away game of this Europa League campaign was in Azerbaijan against FK Qarabag, will return to the country for the final on Wednesday, 29 May (20:00 BST).

Aubameyang and Lacazette strike again

Barring an unlikely combination of results on the final day of the Premier League season – Arsenal need to win and Tottenham to lose, with the Gunners making up an eight-goal swing in goal difference – Arsenal’s Champions League hopes now rest on winning the Europa League.

Portugal, Ukraine, Belarus, France and Italy have been among the destinations that Emery’s side have visited, navigating 14 games to reach the final and while they have been unconvincing on occasions, this performance underlined their credentials as potential winners.

Emery, who has earned the tag “Mr Europa League” after winning the competition in 2014, 2015 and 2016 while in charge of Sevilla, was vindicated in his bold team selection.

The deployment of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Mesut Ozil all worked for the Spaniard as his team recovered from Gameiro’s early goal to overcome the intimidating atmosphere inside the Mestalla Stadium.

Ozil’s 92% passing accuracy was better than any other Arsenal player when he departed just after the hour mark, while Aubameyang and strike partner Lacazette demonstrated their growing understanding as a pair, as well as their competency in front of goal.

The duo, responsible for the Gunners’ first-leg lead, again tormented their Spanish opponents throughout.

Lacazette’s flick-on allowed Aubameyang to race clear and volley in their opening goal, before he swivelled on Lucas Torreira’s pass when scoring the visitors’ second of the evening.

Aubameyang’s two late goals brought up 48 goals between them this season, with no other Arsenal player contributing more than six.

With his forward line operating at maximum capacity, Emery’s next task is to turn his club into winners in Europe.

While his remarkable record now stretches to 19 unbeaten Europa League knockout ties, Arsenal have lost their last three major European finals – the Champions League final to Barcelona in 2006, the Uefa Cup final to Galatasaray in 2000 and the Cup Winners’ Cup final to Real Zaragoza in 1995.

More to follow.



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