Football NewsLisbon Dumps Arsenal Out of the Europa League
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A spirited Sporting Lisbon dumped Arsenal out of the Europa League on penalties after a keenly fought 1-1 draw in the round of 16.

Arteta opted for a strong starting XI on home soil which included Aaron Ramsdale, William Saliba and Gabriel Jesus, the latter of whom made his first Gunners start in four months. It’s now Saliba who could be sidelined, as the Frenchman went off injured shortly after Arsenal took the lead through Xhaka’s cool finish in 19 minutes.

Takehiro Tomiyasu had already made way in the ninth minute, leaving Arteta light in his defensive department and making it more of a difficult night than the Gunners would’ve planned for. The same could absolutely be said for Pedro Goncalves’ sensational goal from just beyond the halfway line to draw Sporting level and ultimately take the game to extra-time before the dreaded penalties.

Gabriel Martinelli crucially missed his spot kick in a tense shootout, as the Portuguese giants went through to the quarter-final stage.

Little over 24 hours after Erik ten Hag claimed that Arsenal “almost” always have a fully-fit squad, one of Mikel Arteta’s men went down after just seven minutes and had to be substituted, before another soon followed in a bittersweet opening 20 minutes. The unfortunate player who first had to be withdrawn was right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu, having picked up a muscle injury in the opening stages to leave Arteta slightly depleted in defence.

It was at least a reprieve for Ben White on the same day that he’d been left out of Gareth Southgate’s 25-man England squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers. Then, just 12 minutes later, Rob Holding was called on from the bench to thoroughly rip up Arteta’s back line, as star defender William Saliba hobbled off amid the jubilation of the Gunners’ much-needed opening goal.

With Jesus going off ahead of the second half, Arsenal’s composure followed. The Gunners struggled to refund their grip on the game and were punished in quite spectacular fashion, as Pedro Goncalves scored from just inside Arsenal’s half in the 62nd minute to pull Ruben Amorim’s side back on level terms.

Spotting Aaron Ramsdale off his line after team-mate Paulinho won the ball from Jorginho in midfield, former Wolves midfielder Goncalves took aim from 46 yards out and somehow found the net to stun the Emirates. Suddenly, the tie was all square again and the Gunners had gone from cruising to crumbling.

As Arsenal’s players went into a huddle in an attempt to rally themselves, Arteta immediately called on Bukayo Saka and Thomas Partey to help turn the tide from the sub’s bench. Sporting’s confidence only grew, however, and they deservedly took an enthralling contest to extra-time.

As extra-time found no winner, the tie went down to penalties, Arsenal’s first at the Emirates. By then, Sporting had been reduced to 10 men after Manuel Ugarte came flying into Bukayo Saka to stop a late counter attack, resulting in his second yellow card.

Unfortunately for the Gunners, it was Gabriel Martinelli’s penalty miss which proved crucial and the away side went through to the last eight by scoring all five of their spot kicks. European football will back at the Emirates next season.