Nicolas Pepe produced his best performance in Thursday’s Europa League win over Vitoria Guimaraes since arriving at Arsenal in a club record deal from Lille last summer.
Pepe came off the bench to score two sublime free-kicks in the last 10 minutes to lead the Gunners to victory against the Portuguese visitors at the Emirates Stadium.
Marcus Edwards gave Vitoria a shock lead earlier in the game, before Arsenal’s Brazilian youngster Gabriel Martinelli responded with a sublime header to make it 1-1.
The visitors regained their lead through Bruno Duarte who scored six minutes after an hour mark after latching on a rebound to give his side half-time lead.
Arsenal were trailing 2-1 when Pepe was introduced for Alexander Lacazette in the 75th minute and he scored five minutes later with a curling effort from 25 yards to make it 2-2.
Pepe again scored another free kick in stoppage time to help Arsenal avoided their second straight defeat and retained their place at the top of Group F.
The Gunners, who were poor for large patches of the game, burst into life in the final 10 minutes as Martinelli was denied from close range before Rob Holding’s header was well held by the goalkeeper.
The victory is a huge relief for Arsenal manager Unai Emery made 10 changes from the side that lost to Sheffield United in the Premier League on Monday and for Pepe who has under tremendous pressure since arriving at the Club.