Martin Keown has applauded Arsenal’s £20million goalkeeper Bernd Leno for a decision he made during yesterday’s win against Benfica.
The Gunners secured a dramatic 3-2 victory against the Portuguese opponents on Thursday to qualify for the Europa League last 16, where they’ve been drawn against Olympiacos.
Mikel Arteta’s side were heading out on away goals at one stage against Benfica, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a header three minutes from time.
Pundit and ex-Gunners defender Keown highlighted a “turning point” from Leno that may have gone under the radar.
Ferreira Silva put Benfica 2-1 in front on the hour mark after he latched onto a poor headed backwards pass from Dani Ceballos.
Keown explained Leno did superbly to resist the temptation of bringing the player down, something he did in a similar vein against Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier in February to earn a red card in the Premier League.
The goalkeeper didn’t make the same error twice as he opted against fouling Silva as the last man. That left Arsenal with enough time to score two goals and qualify, something which may have been impossible with 10 men.
“It’s a turning point. Recently against Wolves when Arsenal went down to nine men, the goalkeeper got sent off in a very similar situation. That was the turning point for me. Learning from mistakes,” Keown told BT Sport 2 (10:40pm, 25 February).
Leno would’ve been sent off and Arsenal’s European adventure would’ve most likely been over had the shot-stopper fouled Silva. Instead, he withdrew his arm after the player skipped past him and gave his team 30 minutes to put things right.
There is frequently discussions about the sale of Emiliano Martinez in the summer to Aston Villa, but the Gunners still have a great number one in 28-year-old Leno and he’s someone that is very consistent.