Against the run of play in the first half, Arsenal showed a clinical touch that has been missing from the side in recent weeks.
Alexandre Lacazette did not throw away his shots, scoring a brace as Arsenal defeated Valencia, 3-1, to take a lead in their UEFA Europa League semifinal tie. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who set up Lacazette for his first, scored a goal in second half stoppage time to put Arsenal in a commanding position ahead of next week’s trip to the Mestalla.
Elsewhere, Chelsea used a goal from Pedro to come back and draw with Eintracht Frankfurt, 1-1 at the CommerzBank Arena in Frankfurt, Germany.
Lacazette’s pair of goals gave him four during this season’s Europa League, as Arsenal has seemed to prioritize European competition, especially at home, over the past couple of months.
In just the 11th minute at the Emirates Stadium, Mouctar Diakhaby got on the end of a Rodrigo header in the box and was quickest to react, scoring to put Valencia ahead and give the visitors a shock early lead.
To the Arsenal fans delight, the lead didn’t last long. In the 18th minute, Lacazette and Aubameyang combined to see Aubameyang played through, one-on-one with a Valencia defender. Aubameyang took Neto off his line before centering to Lacazette, who calmly finished into an open net.
Eight minutes later, Lacazette scored again as he headed home from a Granit Xhaka cross into the box, giving Arsenal the lead against the run of play.
The Gunners looked more likely to score in the second half, and Aubameyang finally found the net himself, volleying home off a Saed Kolasinac cross to give Arsenal some breathing room heading into the second leg.