Arsenal`s Alexandre Lacazette scored twice in the first half and fellow striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang snatched a last-gasp third goal to secure a 3-1 win over Valencia in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday.
Frenchman Lacazette`s double at The Emirates put Arsenal in front after Mouctar Diakhaby had given the Spanish side an early lead and Aubameyang`s late strike gave the London side some breathing space for next week`s return at the Mestalla.
Diakhaby punished some limp Arsenal defending to head home in the 11th minute but the hosts responded with Lacazette starting and finishing a flowing move seven minutes later before giving his side the lead with a 25th-minute header.
Arsenal had lost three consecutive Premier League games to drop to fifth place in the table with two games to go but manager Unai Emery has a special relationship with the Europa League having won it three times in a row with Sevilla.
He may have to lift the trophy for a fourth time if Arsenal are to upgrade to Europe`s elite Champions League competition next season, but the tie was still very much in the balance after Lacazette spurned two glorious second-half chances.
Aubameyang`s stoppage-time volley could prove crucial though, leaving Valencia with a tough task to avoid falling at the Europa League semi-final hurdle for the third time.