Europa League: Arsenal down Valencia as Chelsea held by Frankfurt in semifinals

Unai Emery

Unai Emery won three Europa League titles with Sevilla in successive seasons

Arsenal, Europa League semi-finalists previous year, had lost three consecutive Premier League games to drop to fifth place in the table with two games left - undermining their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via a top-four finish.

At 2-1 and with the clock showing 90 minutes the semi-final was precariously-balanced for the return at the Mestalla next week but Aubameyang's late volley means Arsenal will head to Spain as favourites to reach the final in Baku.

And the Spaniard, a three-time victor of the competition with Sevilla, will take a two-goal lead back to former club Valencia for next week's second leg after Aubameyang struck late on.

Arsenal had lost three Premier League games in a row since winning 1-0 away to Napoli in the last round, but they showed strong character to bounce back after a sloppy start to the first leg. Unfortunately it's out of my hands but I wanted to say thank you to the fans for your support. "I've got two more years on my contract".

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The impressive victory followed a run of three consecutive defeats in the Premier League, and Arsenal were forced to come from behind after conceding an early goal to Valencia's Mouctar Diakhaby.

Once again, it was up to the dynamic duo up front to restore order, with Lacazette doing what he apparently always does in Europa League semi finals - only Radamel Falcao, with seven, has more goals in such games than Laca (five) since 2010 - in finding the net, before his comic book-loving pal sealed the deal with minutes to go.

Valencia, themselves struggling to secure a top-four spot in La Liga, sliced through the home defence at will and had gone close to scoring before Frenchman Diakhaby put them ahead.

However, the hosts did not learn their lesson and from another set-piece, Valencia took the lead when Diakhaby got the final touch at the back post to force home Rodrigo´s header across goal.

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Granit Xhaka's cross found Lacazette and although his header lacked power it bounced off the turf and just went over the line despite Neto's desperate attempt to keep it out.

Lacazette started the move, releasing Aubameyang with a superb pass.

He made poor contact with a header from an Aubameyang cross before failing to beat Neto from five yards out soon after.

Aubameyang then grabbed what could be a crucial goal at the death when he volleyed in Sead Kolasinac's cross.

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