- Arsenal suffered a penalty shootout heartbreak in their Europa League last-16 tie with Sporting CP at Emirates Stadium
- Goalkeeper Adan saved Gabriel Martinelli’s penalty before Nuno Santos scored the winner to spark celebrations among Sporting players
Arsenal suffered a penalty shootout heartbreak in their Europa League last-16 tie with Sporting CP at Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.
Both teams created chances in the entertaining match which ended 1-1 in normal time. Granit Xhaka opened the scoring for Arsenal in the first half and it seemed Mikel Arteta’s side were heading for the next round. However, an outrageous 45-yard chip from Pereira Goncalves two minutes past the hour mark brought Sporting level at Emirates Stadium.
Goalkeeper Adan saved Gabriel Martinelli’s penalty before Nuno Santos scored the winner to spark celebrations among Sporting players and fans at Emirates Stadium. Sporting, who won 5-3 on penalties, will find out their quarter-final opponents in Friday’s draw.
League football is now Arsenal’s sole focus for the rest of the season after exiting Europa League. They currently sit five points clear at the top of the English Premier League table, with 11 matches remaining.
Speaking after the loss to Sporting CP, Mikel Arteta said that Arsenal needs to respond quickly following the huge blow on Thursday night.
“It’s a huge blow, but it brings clarity to the season. It’s 11 games to play for, 11 Premier League games, and a big final against Crystal Palace. The focus has to be there, the energy has to be there and learn from tonight. There’s nothing else, we played 120 minutes and emotionally it was a really demanding game, physically it was a really demanding game and it’s a shame because we wanted to give the crowd, who were superb today again, a different result.” Arsenal.com quotes Mikel Arteta.
How Arsenal Exited Europa League
Arsenal had the home support they needed as they faced Sporting CP at Emirates Stadium. They looked on course to qualify for the next round after the 2-2 draw in Portugal last week.
Mikel Arteta made five changes from to his Arsenal starting XI as he tried to make full use of his squad. Gabriel Jesus was the focus on the pre-match, making a first start since December.
Mikel Arteta had to reshuffle his squad twice early in the first half after both William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu suffered injuries.
Sporting CP began well, putting pressure on Arsenal. They controlled possession and created several chances, but they conceded first, thanks to Granit Xhaka’s powerful strike. Jorginho had lobbed a through pass into the box from his own half, sending Martinelli on goal. The attacker’s shot was parried into Xhaka’s path, who finished perfectly.
Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale made several saves but he couldn’t stop Pedro Goncalves’ audacious chip from going in to put things level in the second half. Both Arsenal and Sporting CP created chances afterwards but the game had to be decided through penalty shootouts, where Martinelli’s spot-kick was saved.
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