Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored on his first start since recovering from malaria as Arsenal beat Newcastle 2-0 at St James’ Park in the Premier League.

Egyptian Mohamed Elneny scored his first Premier League goal for the Gunners before Aubameyang – in his first start since 3rd April – secured the three points in the second half before their all-important second leg clash against Unai Emery’s Villareal in the UEFA Europa League.

Speaking after the game, the Gabonese striker praised his doctors for their part in his recovery.

“The last five minutes I was dying a little bit but to tell the truth. I felt good for most of the game and I was happy with that,” Aubameyang told Sky Sports.

“The doctors did incredible work with me and I am really pleased with them and have to say thank you to them.”

Arsenal lost the first leg of their semi-final tie with Villarreal 2-1 but managed to snatch an away goal courtesy of a Nicolas Pepe penalty. With Aubameyang back, the Gunners will be hoping to notch up a victory and make it through to the finals in their only way of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League next season.

The Magpies had an excellent April after many questions were raised around Steve Bruce’s managerial qualities. The side has managed to turn things around and have distanced themselves from the relegation zone and are all but safe from moving down into the Championship.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (R) of Arsenal scored against Newcastle in January as well. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Steve Bruce’s side, who lost Fabian Schar to a straight red card towards the end of the game for a late challenge on Gabriel Martinelli, remain nine points above the relegation zone with four games remaining.

Arsenal, who host Villarreal at the Emirates Stadium in London on Thursday, have moved back into the top half of the table, in 9th, just ahead of Dean Smith’s Aston Villa.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta speaking to BBC Sport: “We got what we wanted, to win the game and keep a clean sheet. We had strong performances individually and collectively we were the better side.

“I wanted to be fresh for today and Thursday so that was to give an opportunity to everybody. That will give us a headache.

“We missed [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang] for a few weeks with illness. He is getting back to fitness slowly. Today we played him to see how he was and he looked good.

“Winning and playing the way we have done today gives the team comfort and confidence. It’s exactly what we need. We believed we can beat them and we did.”

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce speaking to BBC Sport: “We’re disappointed because we haven’t got near the performances of late and Arsenal played well.

“It’s a poor goal after four minutes. When you’re chasing against these lads it’s always going to be difficult. Arsenal were the better side today, it was as simple as that.

“Allan Saint-Maximin in the last few weeks has produced all sorts of magic but it wasn’t quite there today.

“We’ve never thought [we’re safe]. We have four games left and we still have a lot to play for.”