Olympiakos began the second half in superb fashion, with El-Arabi giving the visitors a 1-0 lead with a lovely curling strike in the 51st minute. An increasingly nervy Arsenal side continued to cede possession to the visitors, who needed another goal to advance on away goals. Pepe and Aubameyang missed two great chances to equalise for Arsenal, but the Gunners eventually held on for an aggregate win. It was a blessing that Arsenal won the away leg 3-1. Had the Gunners needed a goal at any stage of this contest, Mikel Arteta would surely have been tearing his hair out.
Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith-Rowe were guilty of spurning a couple of great chances, with the latter even blocking his teammate’s goal-bound shot, albeit inadvertently. However, it was the Arsenal captain who was the most culpable. Aubameyang missed a one-on-one chance that he normally buries, while also watching his impudent flick off Gabriel Martinelli’s cross saved in the final moments of the game.
The Gabonese forward occupied the headlines for his disciplinary issues over the weekend. But he will be thankful that Arsenal had already done enough to progress despite defeat on the night. Ever since the Emirates stadium was inaugurated in 2006, only two away teams have managed to win there thrice. One of those teams is Bayern Munich, which is expected, considering the Bavarians’ stranglehold over Arsene Wenger’s sides.
It’s frankly amazing that Olympiakos are the other team – they have more wins in Arsenal’s home ground than the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Pedro Martins may have lost the tie, but he can take plenty of pride from the manner in which his team performed. Youssef El-Arabi was a constant thorn in Arsenal’s side, and on another night, fortune might have smiled on Olympiacos. Olympiakos were eventually left to rue their first-leg result, as their European adventure this season came to an end. They have pretty much wrapped up the league title already, so they can look forward to a restful summer now.
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