Arsenal bounce back to earn away draw against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League

The Gunners came from behind in a 2-2 draw after Mikel Arteta made six changes to the side that secured a last-second win over Bournemouth on Saturday to stay five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

A header from William Saliba had given Arsenal the lead but goals either side of half-time from Goncalo Inacio and Paulinho put Sporting in the driver’s seat.

An own goal from Hidemasa Morita secured the visitors a tie they took back to Emirates Stadium next week in hopes of a place in the quarter-finals.

Pre-match talks had been dominated by speculation over Gabriel Jesus’ possible involvement, but he did not travel to Portugal as the striker continues his recovery from knee surgery.

Captain Martin Odegaard made the trip but missed due to illness as centre-back Jakub Kiwior made his debut after signing in January.

The Gunners struck forward just before the middle of the first half when Saliba rose to bring home a corner from Fabio Vieira, with the home side furious at the goal not being counted for a foul on Matheus Reis.

Sporting equalized when Inacio’s low shot was turned around a post by Matt Turner before the defender nodded in the resulting corner, and debutant Kiwior stood rooted to the spot as the set piece rolled in.

Turner had to be alert again a moment later and come down deep again to push wide a drive from Marcus Edwards as the former Tottenham man tried to turn the tide.

With neither side able to gain a firm grip on possession, Granit Xhaka almost restored Arsenal’s lead with a header from behind that Adan just stopped from crossing the line.

Gabriel Martinelli, used as a central striker while Jesus and Eddie Nketiah were sidelined, had a good chance early in the second half but his skillful chip was pushed behind.

But, as in the first 45 minutes, the game was unstructured and Sporting were soon back in attack and taking the lead for the first time when Turner Goncalves made a good save with Paulinho to score the rebound.

Martinelli generated almost a moment of individual magic as he ran out of his own half and punched three men before rounding the keeper, only to be challenged by a back-running Jerry St. Juste at the last moment.

Sporting created the next chance, Paulinho getting behind the Arsenal defense all too easily but firing high and wide.

Arteta’s side soon made their hosts pay for such a poor miss, Xhaka’s attempted ball inside the box was deflected by Morita and Adan to level the game again.

Vieira deftly stopped Adan and Arsenal looked to strike while the iron was hot, but even when Arteta went to his bench to introduce the likes of Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe they had to settle for a draw.

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