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Arsenal came back to draw 1-1 in the first leg of the Europa League round of 32 against Benfica.
Playing the first leg against their Portuguese opponents at Italy’s Stadio Olimpico before the second leg in Greece next week, there was nothing separating the two teams.
Arsenal sent in a rare unchanged lineup for the game, which meant Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continued in front.
After scoring a hat-trick in his last league game, the forward inexplicably missed a golden opportunity to put Arsenal in front when he failed to hit Hector Bellerin’s ball through the area at the open net.
Arsenal had to stay alert towards the end of the first half when Granit Xhaka gave up possession in a dangerous area. Benfica tried to work once, but Dani Ceballos deflected the ball back to avoid danger.
The second half did not have an ideal start for Arsenal. Benfica received a penalty when the ball hit Emile Smith Rowe’s arm in the area.
Pizzi shot from 12 yards to give the Portuguese an advantage.
Instant Arsenal response
However, Arsenal drew shortly after. Martin Odegaard split the defense with a pass to Cedric Soares, who sent the ball through the face of the goal.
Bukayo Saka was available to play at home and restore parity just two minutes after Arsenal had fallen behind.
The VAR verified if there had been an offside in the preparation, but the goal remained.
Arsenal have returned to the level, the away goal assured, and it is Bukayo Saka once again!
Lovely pass from Odegaard in the build 👌
Nervous wait for the VAR but the goal is good ✅ pic.twitter.com/CrCtmCXESH
– Football at BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 18, 2021
There were more chances for both sides, but neither could add to their goal tally.
He leaves the tie delicately prepared before his reunion in Greece for Arsenal’s ‘home’ game next week.