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Europa League Match Report | Arsenal crash out on penalties after 1-1 draw with Sporting CP

The Premier League leaders once again were ousted early in the knockout stage of the competition on a night where Arsenal had plenty of chances to put Sporting to bed

Mikel Arteta’s young Arsenal side is down to just one competition in the 2022-23 campaign after the Premier League pace-setters crashed out of the round of 16 of the Europa League during a swashbuckling 1-1 draw with Sporting CP that resulted in a penalty shootout loss to Rúben Amorim’s Portuguese giants.

On a night where the Gunners could have perhaps made a statement that they were capable of making a deep run in the continent to keep at pace with rivals Manchester United, Arsenal failed to make a host of chances count, leaving no excuses if they fail to kick on and secure their first Premier League win in nearly twenty years.

The early exchanges between the two sides had seen Arsenal suffer another bite from the injury bug after Takehiro Tomiyasu was forced off with what appears to have been a knee injury after slipping on the slick surface when challenging Francisco Trincão, which thrust Arteta into an early change on a night where Ben White was meant to be rested.

Sporting looked the brighter of the two sides early on, however, and the best chance of the opening stages of proceedings fell to Trincão in the 13th minute when he was put through into space down the right channel before shaking Jorginho to cut inside on his left foot, but his resulting effort could only bend wide of Aaron Ramsdale’s far post.

Despite the slow start, Arsenal quickly grew into the match after the wake-up call and would take a 1-0 lead on the night through Granit Xhaka who slammed home a rebound after Adán had done well to initially deny Gabriel Martinelli who was through on goal.

But Arsenal fans did not enjoy celebrations for long after key center-back William Saliba became the second player to walk off the pitch due to a possible lower back injury while being replaced by Rob Holding in what could end up as a hammer blow to the club’s chances both at home and abroad should it turn out to be serious.

Rúben Amorim’s side came out of the half-time interval swinging after the restart just as they did early in the first half, with a handful of half-chances coming in the opening five minutes as Sporting was desperate to level matters on the night and force extra time.

Sporting finally leveled with an absolute wonder goal from Pedro Gonçalves who scored from just inside Arsenal’s half over Ramsdale just after the Portuguese side regained possession on the center line when Paulinho dispossessed Jorginho.

Just one minute later Spoting nearly took the lead through a Paulinho header after the striker met Marcus Edward’s inswinging corner free and clear in the area but could only graze his effort over the bar. Nevertheless, Sporting was in the mood to upset the Premier League leaders on the night and was standing toe-to-toe with the Gunners on merit.

It was Sporting to once again find another key chance, with Edwards bursting through the middle to receive into space before smashing his one-on-one effort with Ramsdale into the England internationals as the Portuguese continued to knock on the door.

Extra time would see Leandro Trossard nearly turn up with a hero’s effort in the 98th minute when he found himself through on goal against Adán after outpacing Sporting’s backline, but his effort was deflected just enough by the SCP shot-stopper to watch the Belgian’s effort hit the far post and bounce clear. Holding would head over the bar from close range after being found by substitute Bukayo Saka during the only minute of added time in the first period of extra time, with Arsenal now back in the mood to find a match-winner to avoid the drama of a penalty shootout.

Arteta’s men then had two further chances just before the end of extra time, but Adán again denied the north London outfit a chance to find a winner before the eventual penalty shootout loss.

It is hard to be too concerned from an Arsenal perspective given their standing in the league, but many fans will still feel hard done and will be left wondering when European success is on the cards.

Arsenal Player Ratings

  • GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 6.5
  • RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 6
  • CB: William Saliba – 6.5
  • CB: Gabriel Magalhães – 7.5
  • LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko – 7
  • CM: Jorginho – 6
  • CM: Granit Xhaka – 8.5
  • CAM: Fábio Vieira – 5.5
  • RW: Reiss Nelson – 6.5
  • LW: Gabriel Martinelli – 7.5
  • CF: Gabriel Jesus – 7
  • Sub: Ben White – 7
  • Sub: Rob Holding – 6.5
  • Sub: Leandro Trossard – 6.5
  • Sub: Bukayo Saka – 6.5
  • Sub: Thomas Partey – 6.5
  • Sub: Martin Ødegaard – 6.5

Sporting CP Player Ratings

  • GK: Antonio Adán – 8.5
  • RCB: Jeremiah St. Juste – 7
  • CB: Ousmane Diomande – 7
  • LCB: Gonçalo Inácio – 6.5
  • RWB: Ricardo Esgaio – 6.5
  • LWB: Matheus Reis – 6.5
  • CM: Pedro Gonçalves – 8.5
  • CM: Manuel Ugarte – 6
  • RAM: Marcus Edwards – 6.5
  • LAM: Francisco Trincão – 7
  • CF: Paulinho – 7
  • Sub: Youssef Chermiti – 6
  • Sub: Dário Essugo – 6
  • Sub: Nuno Santos – 6
  • Sub: Arthur Gomes – 6
  • Sub: Tanlongo – N/A

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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