Arsenal create Greek drama in five acts

A lot was hanging on this Europa League knock-out tie against Benfica.

Not least continued interest in the season and progress from last year in Europe when they were knocked out in round of 32.

Arsenal should market branded blood pressure pills.

With 30 minutes left, after Act 3 closed – rock bottom. Season over. Question marks rising over Arteta’s position like bamboo in a humid climate.

Have they been reading Aeschylus and The Oresteia.

Captain in waiting Kieran Tierney helped turn tragedy into victory when he beat his man in the Benfica area and rifled a left footed shot into the corner. It left the skilful feet of Bukayo Saka to deliver the coup de grace at the far post, for Aubameyang to redeem himself with a late winner.

Arsenal know this ground following previous Champions League and Europa ties and started well.

Tierney made a penetrative run and crossed in the first minutes and Aubameyang cut in and shot from an angle, but Leite saved.

In the first ten, nerves meant the final ball wasn’t as accurate as was needed.

Benfica looked more dangerous than last week, with more width.

The nervousness continued. Tierney found Smith Rowe who couldn’t connect.

But half-way through the first half, Saka sent a straight ball through the Benfica defence to Aubameyang who lifted it over Leite into the net.

Arsenal had only kept one clean sheet in the last eight games – so nervous times ahead.

Auabameyang had another chance – soon after and Ceballos had a shot which went over.

But Benfica were still a threat. Vertonghen beat Luiz from a free kick and headed just over.

And just before half-time, Ceballos carelessly fouled Weigl just outside the Arsenal area. Cupido Goncalves hit the free kick into the top corner. An individual mistake clearly damaged the collective. And Benfica took control.

After half time Odergaard sent a through ball to Aubameyang who dinked it over Leite. But this time he was slightly offside.

On 61 Ceballos back-headed from a Benfica goal-kick and Ferriera Silva nipped in rounded Leno, who did well not to bring him down and tapped it in. Negative energy swirled in – the same feeling when Arsenal are due to be knocked out of a cup. Two goals in half an hour. The odds were against it.

Partey and Willian came on for Ceballos and Smith Rowe.

Soon after a more energised Willian found Tierney in the area who beat his man shifted on to his left and hit it into the far corner. He is the first Scotsman to score in Europe since Willie Young in 1980.

But the changes ceded Arsenal’s grip in midfield.

Then Luiz showed his Janus taking a high ball down and shot wide, then heading to Gabriel dangerously in the Arsenal area who lost possession and had to be bailed out.

Odergaard shaped to shoot, Aubameyang stopped his run and the Norwegian passed to no-one.

But with two minutes left, Saka took his man on changed to his left foot and arced a perfect curling ball to the far post for Aubameyang to head home. It is Saka’s 18th assist since the beginning of last season.

Chambers and Elneny came on for Saka and Odergaard to shore up the result.

Aubameyang in the vein of Greek theatre said: “Everyone is happy tonight. This is what gives me power every day. Take the past and transform it into a strength.

“The team showed character. We deserved the win. It will be an example for the future.”

Arsenal: 1Leno, 2Bellerín (Substituted for Lacazette at 78), 23David Luiz, 6Gabriel, 3Tierney, 8Ceballos (Substituted for Partey at 63), 34Xhaka, 7Saka (Substituted for Chambers at 90), 11Ødegaard (Substituted for Elneny at 90), 32Smith Rowe (Substituted for Willian at 63), 14Aubameyang

Benfica: 77Aleixo Leite, 4Verissimo da Silva, 30Otamendi, 5Vertonghen, 17Cupido Goncalves, 21Afonso Fernandes (Substituted for Sousa Soares at 58), 28Weigl (Substituted for Waldschmidt at 90), 49Taarabt (Booked at 5mins Substituted for Appelt Pires at 58), 3Grimaldo (Substituted for Tavares at 85), 27Ferreira Silva, 14Seferovic (Substituted for Núñez at 57’minutes)