Arsenal vs Sporting: Gunners Beaten on Penalties in Europa League Round of 16
Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League Round of 16 after losing to Sporting on penalties at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night. The Gunners had won the first leg 1-0 in Lisbon but failed to score in the return fixture, which finished goalless after extra time. In the resulting shootout, Arsenal missed two of their spot-kicks, while Sporting converted all four to progress to the quarter-finals.
The match got off to a slow start, with both sides struggling to create clear-cut chances in the first half. Arsenal dominated possession but were largely restricted to shots from distance, with Granit Xhaka and Henrikh Mkhitaryan both trying their luck from outside the box.
Sporting’s best opportunity came just before the break, as Nani’s shot was deflected narrowly wide of the post. The visitors also had a penalty appeal turned down after Jeremy Mathieu went down under a challenge from Nacho Monreal, but the referee waved play on.
The second half was a similarly tight affair, with neither side able to break the deadlock. Arsenal’s best chance fell to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but the striker was unable to convert from close range after good work from Mesut Ozil.Advertisement
As the match went into extra time, both teams began to tire, and chances became even harder to come by. Sporting’s Rodrigo Battaglia came closest to scoring, hitting the post with a long-range effort.
The match ultimately went to penalties, and Arsenal got off to a bad start as Aubameyang’s effort was saved by Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio. Mathieu then converted for the visitors, before Matteo Guendouzi missed Arsenal’s second penalty.
Sporting went on to score their next three spot-kicks, while Arsenal missed one more, with Alex Iwobi’s effort saved by Patricio. The Portuguese side held on to win 4-3 on penalties and secure their place in the last eight.
The result is a blow to Arsenal’s hopes of winning the Europa League, which had been seen as their best chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. The Gunners are currently sixth in the Premier League and face a tough run of fixtures in the coming weeks, including matches against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
As for Sporting, they will be hoping to carry their European form into their domestic campaign, where they currently sit third in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. The Lisbon-based club have not won a major European trophy since lifting the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1964, but will fancy their chances of going far in this year’s Europa League.Advertisement
Overall, it was a disappointing night for Arsenal, who will now have to regroup ahead of their crucial upcoming matches. The Gunners will need to find a way to start scoring goals again if they are to salvage their season and achieve their objectives