By Sam Dean at the Emirates Stadium
Arsenal have been set on making history this season and, in a way, they did so on Thursday night. Never before has there been a competitive shoot-out at the Emirates Stadium and, against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, that first decider went in favour of the Portuguese team.
Gabriel Martinelli, the hero so many times this season, missed the decisive effort, ending the European dream for Mikel Arteta’s side. At the end, as Sporting celebrated, Arsenal could not complain. The visitors had been the better team, and Arsenal must now put all their focus into the Premier League. There have been moments in recent months when it has felt like the footballing gods were smiling on Arsenal.
Late winners have flown into the net, key players have remained unharmed and their remarkable league campaign has continued to capture the imagination of their supporters. Then there are nights like this, when they are reminded that top-level football is not all about dramatic goals and thrilling youngsters. Against a Sporting team of considerable cunning and tactical awareness, Arteta’s side were hit with a cold splash of reality as they were forced into extra time. Sporting are the fourth-best team in Portugal and it all seemed to be going Arsenal’s way, as expected, when Granit Xhaka gave them a first-half lead.
After a 2-2 draw in the first leg, that would have been enough. There was more reason for Arsenal to feel good about themselves, as Gabriel Jesus impressed returning from injury. With one shot from the halfway line, though, Sporting midfielder Pedro Goncalves ripped the wind from Arsenal’s sails. It was an extraordinary equaliser, out of nowhere, and it changed the dynamic of this last-16 tie.
With another Premier League match looming on Sunday, against Crystal Palace, an extra 30 minutes of football was not what Arsenal needed. There has been a shortage of “big European nights”, as Arteta put it before this match, at the Emirates Stadium in recent years. That was partly due to the pandemic, of course, but also because of Arsenal’s inability to qualify for Europe. The club were therefore keen to drum this one up, to transfer the excitement of their league form into European competition.
Before kick-off there was a light show, which added to the sense of occasion, and Arteta duly picked a stronger side than many would have expected. Naturally, the inclusion of Jesus from the start, for the first time since mid-November, provided the home crowd with a bigger boost than any flurry of flashing lights ahead of kick-off. Arsenal’s supporters had been waiting a long time for this moment and Jesus was eager to impress in the first half, as he played and pressed with all of his usual intensity.
Is it a coincidence that all of Xhaka’s goals this season have come with Jesus on the pitch? Perhaps not. It certainly feels relevant that the summer addition of Jesus helped to make Xhaka more threatening in the first part of the season, and it should also be noted that the midfielder did not score once during the Brazilian’s lengthy absence. Xhaka’s goal came despite a sluggish start by Arsenal, who had struggled to find their usual rhythm in the opening minutes.
Sporting, led by the trendy Ruben Amorim (dressed in skinny jeans and bright white trainers), are a well-drilled team and they produced some impressive football in the first half, when Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate Marcus Edwards caused problems with his pace. Defensively, Arsenal’s cause was not helped by injuries to two of their back four. Takehiro Tomiyasu, at right-back, limped off after appearing to twist his knee.
William Saliba, meanwhile, lasted only 21 minutes before he was substituted with what seemed to be a back issue. Arsenal cannot afford to be without either player, but especially centre-back Saliba, for long. Was it the absence of Saliba that led to Arsenal’s nerviness after the break? That might sound like a simplistic analysis but they certainly lacked their usual composure for large spells, to such an extent that Sporting deserved their equaliser.
The goal itself was astonishing, with Goncalves unleashing his effort from so far away that it might have been a different postcode. As the ball sailed through the air, Aaron Ramsdale backpedalled as fast as he could, before diving backwards and clutching at nothing. Such was the quality, Sporting’s substitutes flooded onto the pitch in delight.
No goalkeeper likes to be beaten from such a distance but Ramsdale at least made amends a few minutes later, when he denied Edwards – saving the shot with his face – after Arsenal’s defence had parted again. Sporting were the better team for much of the second half but extra time brought more chances for Arsenal as Leandro Trossard struck the post, Rob Holding went close and Bukayo Saka drew a late red card for Manuel Ugarte, before it was all decided on penalties.
Arsenal vs Sporting Lisbon, as it happened
So, only the Premier League for Arsenal to shoot at now
Next up is Crystal Palace at the Emirates on Sunday before a run-in that includes Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Newcastle and Brighton.
Reaction in the Arsenal camp
The decisive penalty
SPORTING WIN 5-3 ON PENALTIES
Five good penalties. Arsenal’s long wait for a European trophy continues and Sporting go through to the quarter-finals.
PENALTIES: Arsenal 3 Sporting 5
Santos scores the winner, firing his penalty emphatically to the right of Ramsdale!
PENALTIES: Arsenal 3 Sporting 4
Martinelli’s penalty is saved! Adan guessed the right way, to the left of centre, a poor penalty really.
PENALTIES: Arsenal 3 Sporting 4
Gomes sneaks it below Ramsdale.
PENALTIES: Arsenal 3 Sporting 3
Trossard! Sneaking it below Adan who almost kept it out. Held his nerve.
PENALTIES: Arsenal 2 Sporting 3
Ramsdale gets a strong hand on it, but Inácio’s penalty is in. The worst penalty so far.
PENALTIES: Arsenal 2 Sporting 2
Saka levels it with ease, low and to the right, sending Adan the wrong way.
PENALTIES: Arsenal 1 Sporting 2
Esgaio smashes it home to the right. Ramsdale guessed correctly but it was with enough force to take it past the Arsenal keeper.
PENALTIES: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1
Odegaard calmly slots it into the bottom-left corner, sending the keeper the wrong way.
PENALTIES: Arsenal 0 Sporting 1
St. Juste thumps the first into the top-left corner.
Sporting to take first
Ramsdale gets ready.
Sporting have won the toss by the look of it
The shootout will take place in front of their 3,000 travelling fans
A massive save by Adan to keep Sporting in this
Penalties to come! Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Arsenal were all over Sporting in that period of extra time but the keeper has been inspired. A couple of superb saves to keep the Portuguese side in this.
RED CARD! Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3, Ugarte, 118)
Ugarte is given a second yellow for a nasty foul from behind on Saka.
116 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Late and from behind by Essugo on Martinelli. A big chance now for Arsenal. 25 yards out with this free kick.
Odegaard swings it in and it’s a phenomenal save from Adan’s header! He somehow manages to keep it out of the way of the Arsenal follow-ups too.
114 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Xhaka, to Martinelli on the left wing, who fires the ball in towards Trossard… but it’s come at him rapidly and he can’t properly control it.
113 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Inacio’s gone down with cramp, the first player to do so.
There’s been a fair amount of ebb and flow in this contest this evening, but Arsenal have got a grip of it now. Can they capitalise in the next seven minutes? Otherwise we’re on to penalties.
110 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Odegaard is pulling the strings from the inside-right position. He’s played Saka in on the right-edge of the penalty box, Saka tries to dink it in across goal but Adan is there to gobble that up. It’s been all Arsenal in extra time so far.
107 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Odegaard gets on the end of Trossard’s cross from the inside-left channel, some good approach play from the home side, but it’s come at him with pace and he lashes it over Adan’s crossbar.
And we’re back under way
Partey’s almost gone and put Arsenal ahead within seconds of resuming. He’s tried to shape a ball into the far post with a left-footed effort. Only a foot-or-so wide of the post.
Half time in extra time
Trossard’s chance that hit the post was the best opportunity of the last 15.
105 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Arsenal to end the half with a corner on the right. Saka to take. It’s in to a really good area, on the front post, and Holding is on to it, a terrific run. But he’s put too much on his header and the ball blazes over the crossbar.
104 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Martinelli helps the ball on to Zinchenko in the left channel. It’s looped in to the six-yard box and Saka gets under it, but he can’t steer it towards goal and merely heads it back out in the direction from which it came.
101 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Odegaard is straight into the action, looking to release Saka… but the England international has gone a little early and the flag goes up.
Sporting have lost some of the fizz that they had in the second half, slow to start this first third of added time. Arsenal are in the ascendancy.
100 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Arsenal sub: Odegaard comes on for Vieira.
99 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
High arms by Partey on Inacio. Foul.
97 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
A huge opportunity for Trossard! The ball is errantly passed back by the Sporting midfield, straight into Trossard’s path. He pounces and steams into the box. He gets his shot away, but Diomande gets in a last-minute tackle and Adan gets a hand to it and the ball rolls and rebounds off the post.
95 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Patience from Arsenal as they look to fashion a way through into the final third.
Saka’s played in down the right channel, but the ball down the line is too quick, as it has been on a few occasions tonight and it goes out for an Adan goal kick.
Arteta’s full-time team talk
91 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Zinchenko tries to pick out Martinelli down the left channel… but he’s up against the incredibly pacey St Juste. Martinelli has no chance.
90 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Sporting kick off the first 15 of extra time.
Full time: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Extra time to come. What a contest it has been so far between these two sides. Another 30 to come.
90+3 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Trossard corner from the left. Up comes Gabriel. Infringement noted in the box. Free kick to Sporting.
90+1 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Edwards with a dig from outside the area. Close, but he can’t keep it down.
90 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Four minutes of added time to come.
A leak at the Emirates…
85 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Partey has brought some stability to Arsenal’s midfield, something they were lacking in the second half before he came on.
Arsenal look more comfortable now, launching an array of forays into Sporting’s final third, but time is running out…
80 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Martinelli is fouled again, a shove in the back from Esgaio. Arsenal are clicking back into gear now.
78 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Vieira takes it with his left foot, bending it over the wall, a good effort. Adan didn’t look too comfortable with the save, parrying it out for a throw on Arsenal’s left.
77 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Martinelli earns a free kick, 22 yards out and central after being clattered into by Diomande.
We’re heading to extra time at this rate.
72 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
What a save by Ramsdale! With his face.
Edwards is through on goal, played wonderfully through by Esgaio. Edwards is one-on-one with the Arsenal keeper, 12 yards out. He tries to shape it around the England keeper with his right foot, but Ramsdale makes himself huge and the ball ricochets off Ramsdale’s face. The Arsenal keeper is down for a few minutes. A Sporting corner to come.
This was hit from 46 yards
On come Saka and Partey.
Off go Nelson and Jorginho.
64 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3)
Paulinho almost makes it two with a marvelous front-post header from a Sporting corner. It ripples the top of the net, only a few inches over Ramsdale’s crossbar.
GOAL! Arsenal 1 Sporting 1 (agg 3-3, Goncalves, 62)
What a goal!!! Take a bow Pedro Goncalves – that’s one of the goals of the season.
He’s caught Ramsdale off his line from the edge of the centre circle with an audacious long-range effort. What a quality strike.
58 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Jorginho with the foul on Paulinho, just nipped his ankle there on the edge of Arsenal’s final third.
Arsenal keep giving away possession here, pretty sloppy to be honest and not too dissimilar to several spells in the first leg. There seems to be a little bit of nervousness to Arsenal.
52 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Ugarte is shown a yellow for a two-footed challenge on Martinelli, straight in front of Arteta on the halfway line just as the Brazilian threatens to steam away.
51 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Sporting have again started brightly, much as they did in the first half, but nothing to show for it yet.
47 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Ugarte dribbles well up the pitch into the final third, drawing Arsenal players in. He is able to chip one over to Paulinho ahead of him in the inside-left channel with four players up for Sporting. He’s quickly picked up in the Arsenal box and crowded out. It’s recycled back in, this time to the middle, but is headed away and the threat is cleared.
Begins. Sporting get us back under way.
Half-time sub for Arsenal
Jesus is off for Trossard.
Looks like a pre-arranged move. Part of easing Jesus back in.
Mikel Arteta will be pleased with the current scoreline
But he’ll be worried about those injuries to Saliba and Tomiyasu. We’re in the business end of the season and he’ll want them back as soon as possible.
Half-time: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
The skipper for the night, Xhaka, with the only goal of the first half. He smashed it home after a good shot from Martinelli.
Sporting have struggled to get the likes of Trincao and Edwards into killer positions in Arsenal’s final third after a bright start from the visitors.
Jesus has looked lively, no sign of a lack of match fitness despite being out with injury since before the World Cup.
45+3 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Sporting are pushing and probing here at the end of the first half.
Ugarte gets his boot on it a few yards out the box and it’s not far off at all. It took a small deflection so is a Sporting corner. Comes to nothing.
45+2 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
A yellow card to Xhaka for a push on Trincao while the Sporting man tries to fire up the boosters and get into space a few yards into the Arsenal half.
45 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Four minutes of added time to come. A wasted corner there. Launched to the far post but overcooked. Ramsdale goal kick.
44 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Edwards gets a shot away, edge of the box, but Xhaka is there to block. Sporting corner to come.
43 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
A darting run is made by Paulinho down the right channel, he’s played in by Edwards but the pass is overhit and the attack breaks down.
41 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
St Juste spots an opening and doesn’t need asking. He bursts through the middle and isn’t picked up. He gets a shot away, edge of the box, but Gabriel comes across last-minute to put him off just enough and it’s blasted over Ramsdale’s crossbar.
39 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Missed header by Holding and it looks like Trincao might get a sniff in, but Ramsdale acts sweeper keeper and hoofs it away.
37 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Ugarte with a lunge on Xhaka in the centre circle, frustration showing. Arsenal free kick. A sustained period of Arsenal possession ensues.
Sporting are really struggling to pick up runners from Arsenal. After a bright start, Sporting are on the back foot.
35 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Brilliant from Martinelli to keep the ball in on the left and fizz it into the box to a lurking Jesus. He takes a couple of touches to tee himself up but is crowded out by Diomande and the Arsenal forward overruns it in.
30 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Jesus gets a shot away, cleverly threading it through the defender’s legs so that the keeper sees it late, forcing another save by Adan. He’s been explosive tonight, not rusty at all even though it’s his first start in four months.
28 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Well stood up there by Zinchenko. Sporting hit Arsenal on the counter attack following a corner in which the ref got in the way.
Edwards was the man leading the charge, but Zinchenko tracked back rapidly and blocked the shot, a poor finish in the end.
22 mins: Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2)
Jesus has been tripped by Reis in the Sporting box, a clear foul, but apparently the Arsenal man was offside in the build up so no penalty is given.
Another injury to Arsenal’s back four
Saliba comes off for Holding.
GOAL! Arsenal 1 Sporting 0 (agg 3-2, Xhaka, 19)
Xhaka puts Arsenal ahead!
It’s a terrific run down the left hand side from Martinelli who gets on the end of a long ball, cuts into the box and fires towards goal.
It rebounds out, saved by Adan, and Xhaka is the man there in the box to fire with conviction into the back of the Sporting net.
15 mins: Arsenal 0 Sporting 0 (agg 2-2)
A really good ball in by Nelson from the right channel which Jesus gets to in the box, on the blindside of the defenders and forces a save out of Adan.
Jesus is working so hard to ensure he is part of those little triangles. He’s earnt his side a free kick in the final third now, encouraging the foul onto him.
14 mins: Arsenal 0 Sporting 0 (agg 2-2)
Jorginho nips one over the top through the middle to Jesus who is almost on to it in the Sporting box, but Adan hurries out and collects. The crowd want more of that – too little so far.
13 mins: Arsenal 0 Sporting 0 (agg 2-2)
Trincao has go and it isn’t far away!
It’s a great run from in-to-out by Trincao down the right flank, a terrific ball over the top from Esgaio.
Trincao cuts inside and lashes it just wide of Ramsdale’s right-hand post. Sporting are bossing the possession and playing with confidence.
11 mins: Arsenal 0 Sporting 0 (agg 2-2)
The Sporting players are alternating positions effectively. Very tactically savvy and there is an authority about them in the early stages at the Emirates.
Confirmation that Tomiyasu is substituted
On comes Ben White who was snubbed by Gareth Southgate in today’s England squad announcement.
7 mins: Arsenal 0 Sporting 0 (agg 2-2)
Tomiyasu overstretched when he went in on Trincao there. He’s getting medical treatment and it looks like Ben White is getting ready to come on.
5 mins: Arsenal 0 Sporting 0 (agg 2-2)
Edwards floats one into the box from the right channel, but it’s dealt with by Jorginho.
We’re seeing early ambition by Sporting here.
Trincao turns Tomiyasu nicely, but is nicked by the Japan international and Sporting have an early set piece which is taken short, but dealt with by the Arsenal defence.
3 mins: Arsenal 0 Sporting 0 (agg 2-2)
Arsenal are going right up against the back five of Sporting, harrying them in the opening few minutes, much as they did in the first leg.
1 min: Arsenal 0 Sporting 0 (agg 2-2)
Jesus chases down Adan between the sticks for Sporting tonight, but it’s played coolly out to Diomande.
Arsenal get us under way.
In front of a full house at the Emirates this evening.
He starts tonight and is a booking away from a European ban.
The teams are emerging out the tunnel at the Emirates
A reminder of the line-ups this evening.
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Xhaka, Jorginho, Vieira, Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, Nelson.
Subs: Tierney, White, Partey, Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Kiwior, Holding, Trossard, Turner, Hillson.
Sporting: Adan, St Juste, Diomande, Inacio, Ricardo Esgaio, Goncalves, Ugarte, Matheus Reis, Edwards, Paulinho, Trincao.
Subs: Alexandropoulos, Nuno Santos, Israel, Neto, Rochinha, Fatawu, Tanlongo, Arthur Gomes, Cabral, Chermiti, Fernandes, Essugo.
Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz of Spain officiates this evening
Arsenal warm up
Rúben Amorim speaks with BT Sport
I think they will play with high intensity in this game. They know already better the Sporting team.
We can score, so it’s going to be a tough game. But in one game, anything is possible.
I think it will be a very good team of Arsenal. So we are ready and we will do a great job.
There’s a lot of great teams still in the Europa League. It’s just one game, anyone can do it.
Kick off at the Emirates is at 8pm this evening
And on BT Sport 2 if you’re watching along.
Sporting warm up
He’s scored 16 in 38 in all competitions this season – including 12 in the league.
Jesus returned from the bench in the weekend win over Fulham. This evening he’s back in the starting line-up. Here’s what Mikel Arteta said about his return:
It was great to see him back – you can feel the happiness of everyone.
We missed him and now he’s back. We have to manage his minutes, his involvement in the squad and the team.
He’s feeling good and every day he’s training he says his sensations are better and better, so that’s really positive.
A reminder of what happened in the first leg in Lisbon
Injury, illness and the need for rotation prompted Arteta to make six changes to his side for the first leg against Sporting CP. What followed was a watchable yet chaotic 70 minutes of football, in which Arsenal looked slick at one moment and then dangerously disordered the next.
Read Sam Dean’s match report.
Sporting CP starting XI
Sporting XI: Adan, St Juste, Diomande, Inacio, Ricardo Esgaio, Goncalves, Ugarte, Matheus Reis, Edwards, Paulinho, Trincao.
Substitutes: Alexandropoulos, Nuno Santos, Israel, Neto, Rochinha, Fatawu, Tanlongo, Arthur Gomes, Cabral, Chermiti, Fernandes, Essugo.
Sporting CP team news
Ruben Amorium makes two changes to his side who drew with Arsenal in the first leg. Captain Sebastian Coates and Hidemasa Morita are suspended, so Ousmane Diomande and Manuel Ugarte come into the side.
Former Tottenham Hotspurs forward Marcus Edwards retains his place in the starting XI.
Arsenal team news: Mikel Arteta makes five changes
Gabriel Jesus returns to the starting XI whilst Gabriel Martinelli remains alongside him.
Arsenal XI: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Nelson, Jorginho, Xhaka, Vieira, Jesus, Martinelli.
Substitutes: Turner, Hillson, Tierney, White, Partey, Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Kiwior, Holding, Trossard.
Jesus starts for Arsenal
Gabriel Jesus starts for Arsenal which will be his first start for the club since November.
The striker will play alongside Gabriel Martinelli whilst captain Martin Odegaard settles for the bench.
Full team news to follow.
Preview: Stick or twist with Turner?
Welcome to live coverage of Arsenal’s Europa League Round of 16 second leg against Sporting which is intriguingly poised after last week’s 2-2 draw at Jose Alvalade. Arsenal, who made it through to three semi-finals in the last four years, are adamant that they do not consider it an inconvenient distraction from their tilt for the title and see it more as a welcome diversion.
For Mikel Arteta, tonight is also an occasion to savour after so many years of sterile, lockdown-impacted European competition. “We haven’t had big European nights for three years. Due to Covid especially,” he said. “[This] is the first one for a while. Hopefully we will build a big atmosphere and enjoy with our supporters against a really good team that is going to put a big challenge in front of us.”
The head coach’s major dilemma after a streaky performance is whether to stick with the reserve goalkeeper Matt Turner who was very shaky in the White City or recall Adam Ramsdale and pray he continues to be as robust as he has been ever since he signed him because the biggest threat to Arsenal’s title hopes may be an injury for their goalie rather than Manchester City. Any of Jorginho, Gabriel Jesus, Emile Smith Rowe, Fabio Vieira, Kieran Tierney and Reiss Nelson could break into the starting XI that marmalised Fulham on Sunday.
Eddie Nketiah, however, who was injured during their deviant defeat by Everton has still a way to go. “It’s getting better,” said Arteta. “He’s still in the boot. He’s still a few weeks away and we need to be patient. It was a nasty injury and he has a big challenge ahead of him. Thank God it’s not as bad as it could have been.”
It is touch and go whether Sporting, unbeaten in seven in all competitions after a disappointing start to their Liga season, will be able to give Hector Bellerin a homecoming outing at right-back since the clotheshorse has a knee problem while bookings in Lisbon for Hidemasa Morita and Sebastian Coates earned them suspensions. Manuel Ugarte, who was banned for the first leg, is back and goalkeeper Antonio Adan should return from injury. Rob Bagchi