- Arsenal salvaged a 2-2 draw against Sporting Lisbon in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 match
- Goncalo Inacio, Paulinho, and William Saliba all scored in the tense four-goal match
In the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 match against Sporting Lisbon, the Gunners salvaged a 2-2 draw at the Stadium Jose Alvalade.
Goncalo Inacio, Paulinho, and William Saliba all scored in the tense four-goal match, but Hidemasa Morita put a cross from Granit Xhaka in the back of the net to ensure that everything is still up for grabs at the Emirates Stadium the following week.
How the game unfolded
Saliba’s goal from Fabio Vieira’s corner kick in the 22nd minute gave Mikel Arteta’s team the lead to start the game. It was a tale of two corners in the opening period.
Replays appeared to show Oleksandr Zinchenko dragging Matheus Reis to the ground, however, the VAR officials decided not to rule against the goal despite the loud protests of Ruben Amorim’s teammates.
Although scoring first, Arsenal’s revamped backline almost caused their own demise by falling prey to Sporting’s aggressive push and handing the ball away multiple times too cheaply.
Sporting’s constant pressure resulted in their own corner in the 34th minute, and Inacio broke free to slam a header into the net to tie the game as a result of some dubious Gunners‘ decisions.
Arsenal came within inches of restoring the edge through Xhaka’s back-post header, but Antonio Adan narrowly stopped the ball from crossing the goal line.
Just before halftime, Turner came dangerously close to handing Sporting the lead. Three minutes into the second half, Adan was called upon to step up and block Gabriel Martinelli’s effort to chip the ball after Zinchenko made a clever pass.
The second half
A minute later, Vieira, a native of Portugal, had a 20-yard long-range shot, but his shot sailed just wide. Arsenal‘s quick start to the second half was rendered meaningless in the 55th minute when Paulinho gave Sporting the lead after Turner had palmed Pedro Goncalves’ shot into an unsafe area.
The hosts were fighting hard, and in the 59th minute, Martinelli came dangerously close to repeating his incredible solo goal against Chelsea. He ran virtually the entire field and skipped past Adan before Jeremiah St. Juste made a miracle last-second challenge.
A fast-paced opening to the second period showed no indications of slowing down as Paulinho missed a shot while one-on-one with Turner in the 61st minute. However, in an unusual move, Arsenal levelled the score when Morita deflected Xhaka’s attempted cross for Martinelli into his own net.
Adan stopped a few speculative Saka tries before the curtain fell on an odd match as the game’s tempo drastically slowed down in the closing 25 minutes.
On Sunday afternoon, Arsenal will travel to Fulham to continue their Premier League championship defence, while Sporting will face Boavista a few hours later in Primeira Liga play.