Bukayo Saka was the scorer as Arsenal drew with Benfica in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16.

The Gunners, who played at the Olympic Stadium in Rome instead of Portugal because of the 19th-place finish, were the better team but failed to convert a number of first-half chances and fell behind shortly after the break.

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Emile Smith Rowe was adjudged to have handled a Diogo Goncalves cross, leading to a penalty which Pizzi converted to take his goal tally to seven.

The lead lasted just two minutes, however, as Cedric Soares’ cross was converted by England winger Saka from close range.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored a hat-trick against Leeds in the Premier League, had two great chances, but at 0-0 he missed from close range, and at 1-1 he missed the target.

On a positive note for the Gunners, left-back Kieran Tierney and striker Gabriel Martinelli came on as second-half substitutes after their injuries.

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The second leg takes place in Athens in a week’s time and is sandwiched between two big league games for the Gunners – the visit of Manchester City to the Emirates and the trip to Leicester.