Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace fires Arsenal past Rennes

He opened the scoring after a cutback from Aaron Ramsey in the opening five minutes to get Arsenal off to a flawless start.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Arsenal some early hope with a goal after just four minutes, when Aaron Ramsey was found by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who in turn found the Gabon global with a cute low cross, who did the rest from a few yards out.

Aubameyang broke down the left flank then cut the ball inside to Ramsey, who looked to initially put Sead Kolasinac in with a ball in behind, but the Bosnian knew he was offside so didn't play for the ball.

Arsenal made the ideal start after Maitland-Niles played the ball into Aaron Ramsey who squared for Aubameyang to slot home from close range to put the Gunners 1-0 ahead after only three minutes.

For their part, Rennes grew into the match a little more following a sluggish start and tested Petr Cech before half time through a long-range strike from Hatem Ben Arfa.

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The striker was famous for his masked celebrations at Borussia Dortmund, wearing Spider-Man and Batman masks after scoring, but Thursday was the first time he performed one in an Arsenal shirt. But, having got back on level terms quickly, the Gunners took their foot off the pedal and allowed Rennes to establish a foothold in the match.

He should have eased Arsenal nerves by completing his hat-trick with two gilt-edged chances in the final eight minutes.

Rennes pushed for an away goal but Aubameyang scored a third late in the second-half to seal Arsenal's progress.

- Aubameyang has been directly involved in 15 goals in his last 13 appearances at Emirates Stadium (11 goals, four assists).

- Maitland-Niles was the 12th Arsenal player to score in the Europa League this season, the most of any side in the competition (excluding own-goals).

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