Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League by Sporting Lisbon on penalties on Thursday evening, after the second leg marathon of the Round of 16 at the Emirates Stadium.
Granit Xhaka gave Arsenal the lead in the first half, before Pedro Goncalves produced a superb goal that put Sporting back in the net in the 45th minute. There was no separating the team from extra time, but Antonio condemned the hero’s appearance in the Portuguese national team in the penalty shootout, saving from Gabriele Martinelli – Sporting won 5-3.
It seemed clear that after a 2-2 draw in the first leg, Sporting seized their chances and started on the front foot. During the early stages, they took good positions without finding the correct final ball to make it count. Around 15 minutes into the minute, Trincao didn’t miss much when he cut in from the right and fired a powerful left-footed shot towards the far bottom corner.
After that wake-up call, Arsenal started to come alive a little more. Gabriel Jesus, making his first start for the club since early November, came close when he connected on a Reese Nelson pass into the six-yard box – Adan sprinted to his right and was level with it.
Adan made another better save soon after, blocking Martinelli’s low shot as the Brazilian passed one-on-one. But as the ball bounced, Xhaka was there to follow up and confidently swept it home to put his team ahead.
As Arsenal pressed for a moment, Adan made more saves, denying Martinelli and Jesus similar positions on the left. Sporting have also continued to attack in an exciting period of excitement, with the pace of former Tottenham player Marcus Edwards proving as menacing as it did in Portugal last week.
Jerry St. Just and Manuel Ugarte both hit shots from long range before halftime. The former comes after a running drive into Arsenal’s heart but he’s blazing well, and the latter gets plenty with his powerful shot that deflects wide.
Arsenal didn’t get off to a good start in the second half. Slackness crept into their play and they lost the ball cheaply – and that was what led to Goncalves’ equalizer, although it took the audacity of quality to turn it into a goal the way the star of sports did.
Barely inside Arsenal’s half, Goncalves grabbed enough of Aaron Ramsdal off his line and chipped the ball very gently, dipping and deflecting over the Arsenal goalkeeper, silencing the stunned Emirates crowd in disbelief at what they had just seen.
Sporting’s tails were up and Ramsdale managed to get his face – anything important – in the way of a close-range shot from Edwards to prevent Sporting from advancing. But the somewhat frenzied end of 90 minutes saw neither one nor the other lead, and so extra time followed.
The visitors almost got their foot in the extra period when a backwards pass put Leandro Trossard’s pass into the goal. Adan stayed big and managed to deflect the Belgian’s effort off target, much to the Arsenal fans’ anguish.
With fatigue seemingly setting in, Sporting lost some of their fitness in extra time and Arsenal managed to achieve more. Rob Holding thought he should have done better with a header from almost on the line. There was also more than one occasion in extra time when Arsenal were found guilty of overplaying.
Gabriel thought he had won it with Arsenal at death with a header. But Adan, as he had been for nearly two hours of action by that point, was equal to it and walked away, while there was still time for Ugarte to dislodge Bukayo Saka before firing.
Sporting Lisbon: Sant Justi (scoring), Esgayo (scoring), Ignacio (scoring), Arthur (scoring), Santos (scoring)
Arsenal: Odegaard (scoring), Saka (scoring), Trossard (scoring), Martinelli (missed)
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GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 6/10 – preferred over Matt Turner after the American’s shaky performance in Lisbon. He gets defeated by one of the cutest targets you’re likely to see but then you save with his face.
Right-back: Takehiro Tomiyasu – N/A – The injury forced him to flee after just nine minutes.
CB: William Saliba – N/A – Didn’t last more than Tomiyasu. He was also wounded.
Center back: Gabriel – 6/10 – tough night. The distribution could have been better but he almost won it in overtime.
Left-back: Oleksandr Zinchenko – 6/10 – Due to a tough time tracking down Edwards but almost got through it.
CM: Fabio Vieira – 5/10 – He was heavily involved in a lot of good Arsenal play in the first half. Things got a bit worse in the second half and he struggled to keep up.
CM: Jorginho – 5/10 – He couldn’t get his foot to the ball to calm things down when Sporting raised the tempo after half-time. I got out shortly thereafter.
CM: Granite Shaka – 7/10 – Follow up the play to break the deadlock with a tight end. He fought for the ball well in midfield.
Right wing: Reiss Nelson – 6/10 – Creating an early opportunity for Jesus but mostly a fringe character.
Saint: Gabriel Jesus – 7/10 – Arsenal survived well without him but here he showed what he had been missing – his movement off the ball to create space was very good.
Left-back: Gabriel Martinelli – 5/10 – Good compulsory saves from Eden. She later fizzled out and was a poor penalty kicker in the shootout.
SUB: Ben White (9′ to Tomiaso) – 6/10
Sub: Rub Holding (21 minutes to Saliba) – 5/10
SUB: Leandro Trossard (46′ for Jesus) – 5/10
SUB: Thomas Partey (66 min for Jorginho) – 6/10
SUB: Bukayo Saka (66 minutes to Nelson) – 7/10
SUB: Martin Odegaard (101 min for Vieira) – 7/10
Mikel Arteta – 7/10 – He had to deal with two early injuries. He reacted to Sporting’s equalizing goal by turning two of his most confident players off the bench.
A goal keeper: Eden (9); CB: St. Just (7), CB: Diomandy (6), CB: Ignacio (6); RM: Esgayo (7), poison: Goncalves (8), poison: Ugarte (6), LM: Mathews (7); RF: Edwards (8), street: Paulinho (6), LF: Trincaw (7)
Sub: Chermete (5), Isogo (6), Santos (6), Arthur (6), Tanlongo (not available)