Arsenal made a superb start as we broke the deadlock inside the opening five minutes when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was on hand to tap home from close range after an Aaron Ramsey cross.
Aubameyang turned provider for Arsenal's second, chasing down a Ramsey pass before it went out of touch and crossing for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to smash a header in to double the hosts' lead.
Arsenal made the flawless start after Maitland-Niles played the ball into Aaron Ramsey who squared for Aubameyang to slot home from close range to put the Gunners 1-0 ahead after only three minutes.
Aubameyang had not scored in the competition since September so breaking his duck to get Arsenal up and running was timely, then he struck again late on for his sixth brace of the season in all competitions.
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After the game, he said: 'I needed a mask who represents me.
As the clock ticked down, there was just time for some vintage Hatem Ben Arfa dribbling skills, some heroic goalkeeping from Rennes alumni Petr Cech and some wayward finishing from Adrien Hunou, but it remained Arsenal's night.
With the game in the balance, Aubameyang added a third for Arsenal to settle the tie and leave his side with a chance of lifting their first European trophy in more than two decades.