Arsenal 1 – 1 Sporting CP – Match Report
We’re eliminated from the Europa League after losing the first-ever penalty shoot-out at the Emirates Stadium.
Gabriel Martinelli saw his penalty saved on penalties, allowing Nuno Santos to convert the winner after a 1-1 draw in the evening and a 3-3 draw on aggregate.
When Granit Xhaka gave us the lead in the first 20 minutes there was little hint of the drama to come on a long evening in the Emirates.
But we couldn’t extend the lead and were punished when Pedro Goncalves scored an outrageous equalizer just before the halfway line.
We came close to winning on several occasions in extra time – notably through Gabriel and Leandro Trossard’s post hit – before Sporting sent off a man late.
Penalties were required and although Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard all scored, Martinelli saved his effort from Antonio Adan and the Portuguese’s lead.
Granite takes the lead
After a rather carefree first quarter of an hour, Gabriel Jesus, who was back in the starting XI for the first time since November, got our first shot on goal.
Reiss Nelson did well to roll in a cross from the right and Jesus got to the far post but couldn’t make proper contact with his shot and the keeper clawed it wide.
However, it was only a temporary respite for Sporting.
Gabriel Martinelli sped away down the right wing after being found by a sharp Jorginho pass and headed into the box. His low shot was parried by Antonio Adan, but there was Xhaka, who finished cleverly off the post for the first time.
For Xhaka, who wore the armband in place of the rested Martin Odegaard, it was Xhaka’s fifth goal of the season – his best return for us.
When we started rebooting the game, William Saliba was retired to be replaced by Rob Holding. Takehiro Tomiyasu had already been replaced by Ben White as Mikel Arteta was forced to make early changes to his back line.
Sporting, fourth in Portugal’s top division and unbeaten in seven games, had started the better of the two sides but our goal reassured us despite the defensive change.
Jesus looked like a man on a mission on his return to the Emirates and after half an hour he wormed his way into the box, picking up his markers before forcing a good flat save from the keeper.
However, that was his last meaningful action of the evening as he was replaced by Leandro Trossard at half-time.
Long distance leveler
We started the second half like we started the first, a bit off pace.
Gabriel and Holding both made good blocks in the penalty area as Sporting looked for an equaliser.
We struggled to get going again and Sporting took advantage with an exceptional goal on the hour.
Jorginho was dispossessed on the halfway line and Pedro Goncalves went for the ball. He took a touch, spotting Aaron Ramsdale well off his line and sending his shot over the keeper and just under the bar. He was a full 45 yards away and the incredible shot sent the away fans into raptures.
Arteta responded by sending Bukayo Saka and Thomas Partey but the Portuguese side were now full of conviction.
The intensity increased. Ramsdale came to the rescue when Marcus Edwards raced on goal, one-on-one. The former Tottenham appeared to be the favorite but our goalkeeper bravely ran out to thwart him and took the shot straight to his face.
The visitors were on top now. Fabio Vieira saw his free-kick saved and Granit Xhaka couldn’t get up high enough at the far post to put in a Trossard corner but Sporting were always dangerous at the break.
But there were no more goals in regular time and with the abolition of the away goals rule, it went into overtime.
Trossard had a great chance to score the winning goal seven minutes into extra time. He lunged for a loose back pass, pushing for goal but his shot deflected off the post and saved when the keeper did just enough.
At the end of the first half, Holding headed wide of the near post from a Saka corner when penalties threatened.
Partey shot wide after the restart and Odegaard shot wide before Trossard just lost his footing in the box as we made a strong finish.
Gabriel had a well-held header, then quickly blocked close-range shots before Manuel Ugarte was sent off for a hasty tackle on Saka.
However, we couldn’t find the decisive second and it took penalties to find a winner.
Jeremiah St Juste scores 0-1
Martin Odegaard scores 1-1
Ricardo Esgalo scores to make it 1-2
Bukayo Saka scores 2-2
Goncalo Inácio scores to make it 2-3
Leandro Trossard scores to make it 3:3
Arthur Gomes scores 3-4
Gabriel Martinelli misses (saved) 3-4
Nuno Santos scores 3-5
What it means
Our European season is over for another season, which means we have 11 games left this season, all in the Premier League.
We’ll be back in the Premier League this weekend when we host Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon. It’s our last action before the international break.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted on condition that appropriate credit is given to www.arsenal.com as the source.