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Bukayo Saka’s on Thursday stepped up to grab a quick equalizer that saw Arsenal go home with an important away goal in a 1-1 draw against Benfica in their Europa League last-32 tie in Rome.
It was a suspense-filled first half at the Stadio Olimpico, although Arsenal should have gone into the break in front, breaking down the Benfica defence for Arsenal in the final third seemed quite difficult.
But the game livened up after the break and Benfica was awarded an early penalty when Emile Smith Rowe was penalized for handball. Europa League top scorer and captain Pizzi (55) dispatched from the spot.
However, their lead only lasted a few minutes as Arsenal hit back almost instantly. Cedric Soares, who started his career at Benfica’s fierce rivals Sporting Lisbon, fired in a cross that was turned home by Saka. VAR checked the goal for offside – Arsenal were flagged 10 times during the game – but it stood.
The last-32 tie is finely poised for the second leg next Thursday in Athens with Arsenal holding a slender advantage with the away goal.
The pair will then travel to the Karaiskakis Stadium in Greece – home of Olympiakos, who knocked Arsenal out of the Europa League last season – for the return leg next Thursday.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK