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Arsenal, Milan through in Europa League; Napoli, Germans out

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New Delhi:  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored late to steer Arsenal into the last 16 of the Europa League with a 3-2 win over Benfica on Thursday, while Napoli and both German teams were knocked out.

Arsenal had to come from behind to advance 4-3 on aggregate, while Napoli is out despite beating Granada 2-1 in the second leg. The modest Spanish club surprisingly advanced 3-2 on aggregate.

“The dream continues!” Granada midfielder Luis Milla said on Twitter.

Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim went out with 2-0 losses at home to Swiss side Young Boys and Norwegian minnow Molde, respectively.

“A huge disappointment,” Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz said after losing 6-3 on aggregate.

Manchester United drew 0-0 with Real Sociedad for a 4-0 aggregate win, and Milan progressed on away goals, 3-3 on aggregate, after drawing 1-1 at home with Red Star Belgrade.

Goals from Lukas Provod and Abdallah Sima in the second half gave Slavia Prague a 2-0 win at Leicester to progress after their goalless first leg.

Roma had little difficulty getting past Sporting Braga with a 3-1 win at home for 5-1 over two legs.

AUBAMEYANG’S LATE DECIDER

Aubameyang scored twice for Arsenal, including the decisive 87th-minute winner just as the Gunners were poised to go out on the away goals rule despite playing both games abroad due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

The teams played the second leg in Athens while the first leg ended 1-1 in Rome after Benfica’s home game was relocated from Portugal.

Aubameyang opened the scoring in the 21st, finishing clinically after Bukayo Saka played him through.

Diogo Gonçalves equalized with a perfectly placed free kick inside the top left corner in the 43rd.

A mistake from Dani Ceballos gifted Benfica its second goal after an Arsenal corner in the 61st. Benfica goalkeeper Helton Leite produced a long kick out that Ceballos tried heading back to his own goalkeeper, but only inadvertently laid it off for Rafa Silva, who rounded Bernd Leno before finishing into the empty net.

It was just the Portuguese team’s second effort on target on the night.

But left back Kieran Tierney replied with a strike inside the far post in the 67th after showing good composure to elude a Benfica defender, and Aubameyang completed the turnaround with a close-range header to the 19-year-old Saka’s cross.

“We never seem to do it the easy way,” Tierney said.

UNITED YOUNGSTER MAKES BOW

Shola Shoretire came on as a substitute to become Manchester United’s youngest player in European competition. Aged 17 years, 23 days, Shoretire replaced previous record holder Norman Whiteside.

Sociedad captain Mikel Oyarzabal missed a good chance to start an unlikely comeback when he sent a penalty high and wide in the 13th minute, and United did enough thereafter to keep the visitors from getting into the game.

United defender Axel Tuanzebe thought he scored his first senior goal midway through the second half, but it was disallowed as teammate Victor Lindelöf had crashed with his knee into Jon Bautista’s head while jumping for the ball. The Swedish defender was booked after a VAR review.

TRIBUTE FOR TA BI

Milan forward Franck Kessié paid tribute to Atalanta youth player Willy Ta Bi after scoring his penalty early against Red Star Belgrade. The 21-year-old Ta Bi died of cancer on Tuesday. Kessié held up a shirt with the text “To God, champion.”

Mirko Ivanic played a brilliant pass for forward Ben to equalize in the 24th, two minutes after he hit the crossbar with a free kick.

Belgrade defender Marko Gobeljic, who had conceded the penalty early on, was sent off with his second yellow card in the 70th as his team was chasing the goal it needed to get through.

EINDHOVEN OUT, AJAX THROUGH

Egyptian forward Kouka scored late for Olympiakos to knock PSV Eindhoven out despite a 2-1 defeat. The Greek team won 5-4 on aggregate.

Ajax progressed with a 2-1 win over Lille (4-2 on aggregate), Rangers cruised through with a 5-2 win over Belgian team Antwerp (9-5), Shakhtar Donetsk beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 (3-0), Villarreal defeated Salzburg 2-1 (4-1), Dinamo Zagreb beat Krasnodar 1-0 (4-2), and Dynamo Kyiv won 1-0 at Club Brugge to progress 2-1 on aggregate.

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