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Aubameyang is Arsenal’s hero against Rennes – but why his team-mates deserve credit too

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals – the second of which he celebrated by dressing up as the Black Panther – either side of Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ header were enough to obliterate the first-leg horror-show.

As the competition reaches the latter stages his players are going to have to step it up a gear if they are to win him a record fourth Europa League trophy.

But credit to his players, it was a solid workmanlike display in which the heroics were confined very much to the costume department.

Yet within two minutes of the restart, Petr Cech was at full stretch to touch Ismaila Sarr’s low 20-yard drive against the post after Shkodran Mustafi carelessly lost the ball.

More often than not, though, both sides continued to struggle to maintain any sort of momentum – except an exaggerated downward one whenever an opposition player came near to them.

Emery took off Mesut Ozil and Lacazette to inject a bit more energy at the top of the team but it was Kolasinac and Aubameyang who combined moments later, the former providing a perfect cross so the latter could tap in.

He should have eased Arsenal nerves by completing his hat-trick with two gilt-edged chances in the final eight minutes.

But even though he was surprisingly fallible for a superhero, Arsenal’s world had been saved nevertheless.

ARSENAL (3-4-1-2): Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Ramsey (Torreira 87), Kolasinac; Ozil (Mkhitaryan 69); Lacazette (Iwobi 69), Aubameyang. Booked: Lacazette, Mkhitaryan, Kolasinac. Goals: Aubameyang 5, 72, Maitland-Niles 15.

RENNES (4-4-2): Koubek; da Silva, Mexer, Sarr, Grenier (Hunou 69); Niang, Bourigeaud, Bensebaini, Ben Arfa; Andre (Lea Siliki 79), Traore. Booked: Mexer, Grenier, Bourigeaud, Traore.

REFEREE: A Treimanis (Latvia)

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Montenegro vs England LIVE: Confirmed team news and Euro 2020 qualifying updates

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TEAM NEWS

Declan Rice and Callum Hudson-Odoi make their first England starts, with the injured Jadon Sancho and Eric Dier dropping out. 

It’s four changes overall for Southgate, with Danny Rose and Ross Barkley also coming in for Ben Chilwell and Jordan Henderson.

England: Pickford; Walker, Keane, Maguire, Rose; Rice, Barkley, Alli; Sterling, Kane, Hudson-Odoi

GOOD EVENING

Welcome to live coverage of England’s second Euro 2020 qualification group match against Montenegro in Podgorica.

Gareth Southgate’s boys will stay top with a win in eastern Europe – but that’s easier said than done. The Three Lions have drawn their last two games at the Podgorica City Stadium in what promises to be a hostile atmosphere.

Southgate has vowed that the environment will not affect his team selection as he has “no hesitation” in picking young players to do the business. We’ll see if he sticks to that vow, with team news imminent…

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Spurs stars react to Belgium’s win over Cyprus

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Belgium recorded a 0-2 win over Cyprus in last night’s Euro 2020 qualifier. Goals from Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi ensured Roberto…

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Arsenal news: Yannick Carrasco opens door to move with latest comments

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Express Sport revealed earlier this month that Arsenal are still keen on Carrasco after failing to land him in the January transfer window.

Carrasco seemed keen on the move, having spent the last year playing for Dalian Yifang in China.

The Gunners tried to get a deal over line in January, but there were concerns of Arsenal’s request that the deal was a loan.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery noted at the beginning of the window that they had intentions of securing players on loan because they couldn’t afford any permanent signings.

And now it seems that weeks before the summer transfer window opens, Carrasco has issued his first plea for European clubs to sign him.

“I would love to return to Europe. A lot of clubs were interested in me,” Carrasco told Belgian outlet HLN.

“We tried to find a solution in January that would enable me to leave Dalian Yifang.

“But I can understand the club’s thinking. They wanted me to stay.”

Carrasco also noted that he had lost his place in the starting eleven for Belgium.

“I still feel OK in China. But I have lost my starting place in the Belgian national side,” he added.

“This can happen with a team of their quality.

“With the level of competition there will always be times when you don’t get to play a lot.”

Arsenal have also been linked with moves for Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic, as well as Paris Saint-Germain’s Christopher Nkunku.

The club are believed to be searching for a long-term replacement for Hector Bellerin at right-back, who is expected to be sidelined with an ACL injury until the beginning of next season.

Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the front-runner to become Arsenal’s next right-back but they also have Ainsley Maitland-Niles who will be desperate to prove his worth at the Emirates.

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