Aiming to become just the second team in Europa League history to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit, after Fulham against Juventus in 2010, Arsenal took no time at all to level up the tie on aggregate.
Arsenal needed a fast start and they got one, opening the scoring in the fifth minute when Maitland-Niles and Aaron Ramsey combined down the right channel to tee up Aubameyang for a simple close-range finish.
Rennes had never before reached the last 16 of a major European competition and the scale of the tie for the French side was evidenced by the huge travelling support they enjoyed. Following Maitland-Niles' goal, Arsenal were shaky at times, mostly due to the erratic defending of Shkodran Mustafi, as usual.
He pulled on a Black Panther mask after his second goal and Arsenal's third.
"It's really important, obviously it's always very hard when you lose the first game", he replied when asked how key a positive result will be in the first leg next time round.
"We can be proud of our supporters and players today because it has been a very hard week", he said, per Sky Sports.
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Arsenal, though, then sat on their lead rather than building on it and could easily have paid for that approach after the break.
Sead Kolasinac produced a fine block in front of goal to keep out Sarr's shot and Ramy Bensebaini gave Arsenal a further scare when volleying the ball against the opposite post to the one Sarr hit, though the offside flag would have denied him anyway.
After scoring Aubameyang donned a Black Panther mask to celebrate, and he explained why afterwards. "The next match is the most important for us", Emery said. "Black Panther.in Africa and Gabon we are called the Black Panthers so it represents me - that's it".
The draw for the Champions League and Europa League quarter-finals will take place later today.