Arsenal impressively overcame a 3-1 first leg deficit to qualify for the last eight of the Europa League by beating Rennes last night.
The Gunners were always likely to be confident they would have enough to blow their visitors away on their own patch – their home form is so much better than their away – but such evenings can quickly become nervous in the absence of an opening goal.
So that’s why Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ opener was so vital on the night. The versatile Englishman was so impressive against Manchester United last Sunday and carried on that form against the Ligue 1 side, netting his first home goal for the club.
It seems that young homegrown players can get even more fierce criticism from their own fans – despite the fact that every fanbase loves seeing them come through, and Maitland-Niles has been no different.
But Maitland-Niles has been shunted around this Arsenal team this season, his versatility almost proving a curse in terms of establishing himself anywhere.
He is currently shining in his right wing-back position and his latest goal continues his improvement in what has been – despite what the critics may say – a hugely impressive breakthrough season.
The fans were buzzing for the youngster and we’ve put together some of the best reaction…
Well done Bird Man, you fully deserved the goal last night. You've been incredible for us and I'm looking forward to seeing you grow from this #OneOfOurOwn
— ⚽️ TT ⚽️ (@gooner_toni) March 15, 2019
AMN get better game by game and will become a regular first team we for years to come
— Masked Gunner (@onemaskedgunner) March 15, 2019
😂😂who remembers when Niles was being criticized on Instagram.
1. Your setbacks can lead to your come back.
2. . "He has a right to criticize who has a heart to help."
Thank you, Niles listened and we can see the results.
— Tk Mzee (@TakuMuzavazi) March 15, 2019
Played so well today. Well done Ainsley!
— Unais Gunmen (@gudebning) March 15, 2019
Superb ALL ROUND performance by @Ains_7 . Hopefully you get to play in the position you love. 💯
— Odogwu (@MovingKorrect) March 15, 2019
So incredibly happy for you! All the hard work is for moments like tonight many more goals to come! 💯🙏🏼
— Doreen (@Doreen40662852) March 15, 2019
He should be starting every n each game. He is the only english player right now..and even more he has shown his class against man utd and tonight too…make him regular
— Mr.Liberty (@Vj_econ) March 15, 2019
My man of the match, solid performance . 👍
— Nick (@Nick54892802) March 15, 2019
— Gullible Gooner (@gulliblegooner) March 15, 2019
Playing really well Ainsley 👍hard work pays off and you deserve ur chance mate !! 😊
— Mark Antony Bullard (@bullard_antony) March 15, 2019
Happy for you man
— MartÖni (@martonim6p) March 15, 2019
Great game you had👊🏾
— Donald Sibeko (@SibekoSanchez) March 15, 2019
So proud of him. What a performance from the lad 👏🏽👏🏽
— The Unsullied (@dumb_sage) March 15, 2019