Arsenal vs Sporting CP Europa League penalty shootout result, full time, goals and highlights
Arsenal were starting to look like they could do without the Europa League and now they don’t have to. Losing on penalties to Sporting and being eliminated from Europe leave Mikel Arteta’s side with a clear goal for the rest of the season – and if ever there was a night to highlight the importance of that, perhaps it was that tough fight at the Emirates . If Arsenal manage to beat Crystal Palace on Sunday and clinch the Premier League title at the end of the season, that defeat will be quickly overlooked.
Pedro Goncalves made sure to be remembered, however, with a remarkable goal that forced extra time and served Arsenal well for another 30 minutes. The Sporting midfielder’s stunning strike straight from the Arsenal half will be seen as the miracle of a rather unwelcome evening for the Premier League leaders, who have been dragged into the depths of a round of 16 they would admit deep down they did could have waived it.
Of all the possible scenarios, extra time was probably the worst for Arsenal, who slouched more towards the quarter-finals before Goncalves praised Aaron Ramsdale from all 50 yards. Goncalves’ goal was a beautifully delicate moment of vision and inspiration, but it hit Arsenal cold. Arteta’s side were apparently wary of overexerting themselves. It had already been a devastating night as William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu both limped away in the first half, while extra time posed further threats.
That was made clear when Manuel Ugarte was sent off by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz for a brutal and worrying lunge against Bukayo Saka, the latest in a series of increasingly robust challenges from Sporting. Arsenal were already stretched to the limit and Arteta reached for reserves he certainly wouldn’t have wanted to reach to take both Saka and Martin Odegaard off the bench. If it was a feat of strength to force a brave Sporting side to retreat, Arsenal were instead grateful to have come through the rest of the game unscathed.
Arsenal looked more like themselves with Odegaard and Saka on the pitch, but Sporting still forced penalties after an excellent series of saves from experienced goalkeeper Antonio Adan. Leandro Trossard missed Arsenal’s best chances in extra time, spurning the gift of a back pass from Adama Diomande when Adan tapped his well-worn shot against the post. Gabriel Magalhaes was denied twice by Odegaard crosses. Adan later became the hero of Sporting’s night when he saved Gabriel Martinelli’s penalty in a penalty shootout. Nuno Santos made no mistake to seal a famous win.
For Arsenal and with all due respect to the Europa League and a night where the Gunners could enjoy a first European knockout game in three years in front of their fans, it will matter much less. There is no escaping where Arsenal’s priorities lie and the opportunity they have ahead of Manchester City by eight points on Sunday is too important to ignore, which of course leaves nights like today as a distraction.
There haven’t been many games this season where you can blame Arsenal, or even Arteta himself, for lacking the intensity to keep up. That’s what brought Sporting here and it was clear from the start which team was at stake with their season. This is not a criticism of Arsenal but reflects the fact that this was at least their 13th most important game of the rest of the season.
The visitors had Arteta’s side in last week’s first leg, a night Arsenal played better and drew, but Sporting were sharper from the start. Arsenal have rarely come close to that size but they had a chance to end this tie before half-time after Granit Xhaka’s opener. He scored his first goal since October thanks to a costly Adan free-kick that put Martinelli’s shot back in jeopardy after Jorginho’s through ball.
It briefly woke Arsenal from its slumber. The returning Gabriel Jesus was denied by Adan at his near post but Sporting were the side to ask the questions Arsenal never seemed to take seriously enough. Visitors had moments, often filming Xhaka and Jorginho, but without ever looking clinical. Jeremiah St Juste was allowed to move forward before firing over the goal before Ugarte’s deflected shot went wide. Goncalves changed that with a stunning improvisation straight from the Arsenal half.
It was Sporting’s reward for a competitive performance and Saka and Thomas Partey were called up from the bench in response. Ramsdale, quite embarrassed by Goncalves, redeemed himself by putting a shot in the face from Marcus Edwards when he was on goal, but Arsenal played the rest of regular time without creating a significant chance. Odegaard was the next to come on and gave Arsenal their usual spark, but Sporting held on to force penalties. At the end of the season, this defeat may be considered a blessing.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/arsenal-sporting-result-final-score-penalties-b2302615.html Arsenal vs Sporting CP Europa League penalty shootout result, full time, goals and highlights