Arsenal Complete Comeback, Beat Rennes 3-0 to Advance to Europa League Quarters

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 14:  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal takes on Damien Da Silva of Stade Rennais during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Arsenal and Stade Rennais at Emirates Stadium on March 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Arsenal advanced to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League after defeating Rennes 3-0 in their second-leg match on Thursday.

The Premier League side trailed the Ligue 1 team 3-1 from the first leg but gave a strong performance to make it to the last eight at the Emirates Stadium.

A brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and an excellent finish from Ainsley Maitland-Niles gave the Gunners the margin of victory they needed to progress.


Maitland-Niles is Arsenal's Next Superstar

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 14: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Arsenal and Stade Rennes at Emirates Stadium on March 14, 2019 in London, Unit
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The 21-year-old is set for the brightest of futures after a breakout campaign under Unai Emery.

Maitland-Niles is adept on either wing, and the versatile burgeoning talent scored a vital goal against Rennes.

The midfielder has been used as a utility player since making his debut in 2014-15, but he now appears ready to cement a starting role.

The signs were good for the player during Arsene Wenger's final season at the Emirates, but Emery has taken the youngster to another level.

Maitland-Niles was influential as the Gunners burst out of the blocks. Aubameyang slotted home after five minutes, and the writing was on the wall for the Ligue 1 team.

Aubameyang then turned provider as he stood the ball up at the far post, and Maitland-Niles sprinted towards goal to head the ball home, per BT Sport (U.K. only):

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

Arsenal have wiped out the deficit inside 1️⃣5️⃣ minutes. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is the 1️⃣2️⃣th Arsenal player to score in the competition this season! https://t.co/5XOcQZ9AVb

The goal was controversial as replays showed Aubameyang was offside as he crossed the ball, but with the video assistant referee not used in the Europa League, the goal could not be overturned.

It was a magic moment for the Englishman who surely will become a full international in the months ahead.

Rennes battled hard in the second half, hitting the woodwork twice as they searched for a goal to take it to extra-time.

However, Arsenal were worthy winners on a nervous night in north London.

Maitland-Niles appears destined to be a huge player for the Gunners in the next 12 months. His ability to dribble past his marker and provide a final ball, as well as his knack for delivering quality set pieces, make him special.


What's Next

Rennes are back in action in Ligue 1 on Sunday as they travel to Bordeaux. Arsenal host Newcastle United in the Premier League on Monday, April 1 after the international break.