Mikel Arteta (File photo)
Mikel Arteta (File photo)

We merited to still be in the competition, says Arsenal coach after progressing in Europa League

ANI | Updated: Feb 26, 2021 13:59 IST

Piraeus [Greece], February 26 (ANI): After progressing to the last-16 of the Europa League, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is really pleased with the character that his team showed against Benfica and said his side "merited to still be in the competition".
Arsenal secured a place in the last-16 of the Europa League in dramatic fashion after a late winner from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang guided them to a 3-2 win in the second leg on Thursday. The first-leg match between Arsenal and Benfica had ended in a 1-1 draw.
"I think again we made it really difficult for ourselves. Over the two legs we have given them two goals, and when that's the case you going to put the tie in a really difficult position," Arteta told Arsenal.com.

"At the same time I'm really pleased with the character, the courage and the personality that team showed. And the willingness to win the tie, until the end, we threw everything at them and at the end we got rewarded because I think we merited to still be in the competition," he added.
Aubameyang scored the opening goal of the match in the 21st minute but Benfica managed to equalise in the 43rd minute. Benfica then went ahead in the 61st minute with the help of Rafa Silva's strike but Kieran Tierney fired in an equaliser six minutes later.
The manager was also relieved for Dani Ceballos after Arsenal's victory. The Spain midfielder gave away a free kick for Benfica's equaliser, then made a defensive error for their second -- but Aubameyang's late goal ensured Arsenal's win.
"I'm especially happy for Dani because he's a player that lives his professional life as the most important thing in his life and I know that if we had lost that tie, for him it would have meant the world," Arteta said.
"So that's when you need somebody like Auba to come and step in and score the goals and make him much happier than he would have been," he added. (ANI)