Arsenal Comes Back Late to Avoid Europa League Upset

Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal. Photo by Joe Toth/BPI/Shutterstock (10452702bh)

Arsenal narrowly avoided a shocking loss on Thursday night in Europa League group stage action, coming back in the game’s final minutes to beat a Vitoria de Guimaraes side that looked primed for a big upset.

Free-kick specialist Nicolas Pepe scored two brilliant free-kick goals in the 80th minute and then in extra time to bring Arsenal back from the brink of a loss that no one could have seen coming.

The plucky Portuguese side, which has yet to record a single point in group stage action, took an early lead at Emirates Stadium when former Tottenham winger Marcus Edwards scored.

Arsenal brought the game back to a deadlock with a goal from 18-year-old forward Gabriel Martinelli, but Bruno Duarte struck only 5 minutes later to regain the lead for Vitoria Guimaraes.

The game remained 2-1 until Pepe came in at the 75th minute. He promptly scored a stunning free-kick from nearly 30 meters out to tie the game, and then knocked in a shorter free kick in extra time to give Arsenal the 3-2 win.

The Gunners now have a perfect 9 points and look to be a lock to advance to the knockout stage of Europa League play.