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Europa League three things we learned: Arsenal, Granada, Roma move on


Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (right) misses an opportunity to score during the UEFA Europa League Round of Sixteen second leg match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: Thursday March 18, 2021. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

PA Images via Getty Images

Arsenal’s misfiring attack opened it up to a Europa League exit, but its defense closed the door on Olympiacos as one North London side found its place in the quarterfinals.

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The Gunners are joined by Granada and AS Roma, while Tottenham Hotspur went to extra time with Dinamo Zagreb and may well leave the tournament

1. Arsenal not yet good enough to sleepwalk

Arsenal was very sleepy at home to its Greek visitors, giving up 55 percent possession and failing to score despite holding five of the match’s seven shots on target.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s return to the lineup was pretty ugly, the clinical striker credited (debited?) with three big chances missed including a late chance to salt away the tie. Nicolas Pepe had two big misses himself (SofaScore).

Jose Sa made four saves for Olympiacos and the away side pulled a goal back through Youssef El Arabi in the 51st minute, but Mikel Arteta’s insertion of Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard six minutes later helped turned momentum back to the Gunners.

Ousseynou Ba was sent off for rapid-fire yellow cards in the 82nd minute and Olympiacos would not find its equalizer.

2. Molde puts a scare in Granada

It’s a bit of over-simplifying to call Granada the Burnley of La Liga, but it gives you a basic idea of why the Norwegians would’ve felt they had a chance to make a comeback.

A first-half Jesus Vallejo own goal gave Molde hope of just that but Roberto Soldado’s 77th-minute goal, set up by Man City loanee Yangel Herrera, put the tie out of reach.

Molde pulled a goal back early in the second half and Granada needed a huge save out of Rui Silva to keep its advantage at one in the 67th minute.

Eirik Hestad converted a penalty to win the leg 2-1, but the away goal meant Granada saw things out in a comfortable manner.

3. Borja Mayoral leads Roma, sends message back to Madrid

Roma entered its away leg versus Shakhtar Donetsk with a 3-0 lead but some serious injuries.

For a while, I Lupi very much looked like a club missing Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Chris Smalling, and Nicolo Zaniolo.

But Borja Mayoral, still just 23, continued to show Real Madrid why he’d like to play a role in the team when he comes back from loan.

Mayoral had a brace, his second of the tournament, bringing his goal total to six with two assists over 10 UEL matches.

Junior Moraes briefly had the second leg 1-1 but really there was never any questions who’d enter the quarterfinal draw.

Follow @NicholasMendola