Arsenal midfielder Dani Ceballos has vowed to learn from his mistakes following the Gunners’ heroic 3-2 victory over Benfica in the Europa League last night to progress to the last-16 of the competition.
With the tie level pegging at 1-1 after the first-leg in Italy last week, Arsenal got off to the perfect start, hitting the front through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after just 21 minutes to put them 2-1 up on aggregate.
However, Benfica came roaring back, netting a brilliant free-kick through Diogo Goncalves to draw level before Rafa Silva pounced on some slack defending to put the Liga Nos outfit 2-1 up on the night and 3-2 up on aggregate.
Whilst it was jubilation for the Portuguese side, it was despair for Arsenal, particularly Ceballos. The Real Madrid loanee was guilty of conceding the free-kick that led to Goncalves’ equalsier before he completely misjudged a header back towards Bernd Leno, failing to get anywhere near enough power on it for the German to get their first.
Fortunately, his errors did not prove to be too costly, with Arsenal scoring twice inside the final 25 minutes to swing the contest back in their favour. First, Kieran Tierney brought the Gunners level, meaning they still needed one more goal to progress to the last-16.
However, the Gunners were able to call upon their leader – Aubameyang – when they needed him most, as he rose highest inside the penalty area to nod home Bukayo Saka’s cross in the 87th minute and keep their hopes of winning a piece of silverware this season alive.
Although there was an outcry of joy from everyone within the Gunners camp at the full time whistle, Ceballos was probably left feeling a sense of relief, as his errors, particularly the second one, almost gift-wrapped the victory for Benfica.
To Ceballos’ credit, though, he was brave enough to come out on social media after the game and vow to learn from his mistakes, as well as thanking Aubameyang for his heroics.
In a Twitter post, the Arsenal loanee said: “This is football and you can always learn from your errors. Up to the next round!
“Thank goodness. Let’s go, Gunners.
Just two minutes after Ceballos’ costly error that gave Benfica the lead, Mikel Arteta took him off and replaced him with Willian, who provided the assist for Tierney to make it 2-2.
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Although the former Chelsea man has come in for a lot of criticism this season, the Brazilian winger was lavished with praise by Arteta after the game, as the Spaniard pinpointed his introduction as the moment that changed the game.
Arteta said: “Willian, specifically, I think he changed the game. He gave us much more composure in moments, produced some creativity, produced the goal for Kieran and we need everybody on board.
“In this competition having the ability to make five subs that’s a big bonus.”