Arsenal boss Unai Emery believes that his side’s Europa League semi-final tie with Valencia is still 50-50 despite their 3-1 first leg win.
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the goals as Arsenal came from behind to beat Valencia in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final at the Emirates Stadium.
Unai Emery’s side will head to the Mestalla next week defending a 3-1 lead after the France forward netted a first-half brace, with strike partner Aubameyang adding the gloss in the final minute.
Mouctar Diakhaby had headed in a deserved opener for Valencia but the LaLiga outfit have it all to do in the return leg.
Lacazette scored Arsenal’s goal as they crashed out at this stage of the competition last season and also for Lyon in a semi-final defeat two years ago – this time around he will be hoping his double is enough to help the Gunners into the final in Baku on May 29.
Heading into the game on the back of three consecutive Premier League defeats, winning the Europa League appears to now be Arsenal’s best chance of securing a return to the Champions League for next season.
“In the first leg we wanted to get a good result, knowing that it would be difficult,” Emery told BT Sport.
“After the first goal our response was very good, with calmness and passion. We took our moments and the goals in the first half gave us confidence.
“We wanted to win and not to concede a second goal, but we also had to play. The third goal came at the end and for us it was important, but [the tie] continues to be 50-50.
“Valencia are a good team. They played with strong players defensively and in midfield. They’re strong at set-pieces, they scored and we struggled with set-pieces.
“We’ll continue to work on what we can improve, on what we can do better, but generally in the first leg, over the 90 minutes, we can be happy and proud of the players and supporters. Now we will prepare the same for the second leg because we know it will be very difficult.”