Arsenal out of Europa League after shootout defeat by Sporting

It was penalty shootout heartbreak for Arsenal at the end of an epic Europa League last-16 tie with Sporting, as Gabriel Martinelli’s shot was saved from the spot to allow the Portuguese side to progress to the quarter-finals after the sides had drawn 1-1 on the night and 3-3 on aggregate.

Even before the shootout, which the visitors won 5-3, it was a second leg that had it all.

Arsenal had looked on course to qualify relatively comfortably when Granit Xhaka tucked in the rebound from Martinelli’s first-half shot but the Gunners failed to fire at all in the second half and were pegged back in sensational style by Pedro Goncalves’ outrageous lob from the centre circle.

With Aaron Ramsdale scrambling back into his own goalmouth in vein, it was a strike which would have had Arsenal fans thinking of Nayim’s 1995 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final goal past David Seaman.

The drama kept coming, with Leandro Trossard’s shot pushed onto a post in extra-time before Sporting goalkeeper Antonio Adan made another super stop to keep out Gabriel’s header. The Arsenal defender was then denied in the 118th minute by a goal-line block from Ousmane Diomande before the visitors’ Manuel Ugarte was sent off.

But in the end, Sporting prevailed, with Nuno Santos striking the winning penalty. With a five-point lead in the Premier League, Mikel Arteta’s men must focus all of their energies on domestic matters, with Crystal Palace coming to the Emirates on Sunday.

How the penalty shootout went…

Team Player Outcome
Sporting Jeremiah St Juste Scored
Arsenal Martin Odegaard Scored
Sporting Ricardo Esgaio Scored
Arsenal Bukayo Saka Scored
Sporting Goncalo Inacio Scored
Arsenal Leandro Trossard Scored
Sporting Arthur Gomes Scored
Arsenal Gabriel Martinelli Penalty saved
Sporting Nuno Santos Scored

The draw for the Europa League quarter-finals takes place at 12pm UK time on Friday March 17 in Nyon, Switzerland at UEFA’s headquarters. The semi-final draw will also be made. You can follow the draw with Sky Sports’ live blog.

Aaron Ramsdale is lobbed in the Europa League tie with Sporting
Aaron Ramsdale is lobbed in the Europa League tie with Sporting

How Sporting beat Arsenal in an epic

On a wet and wild night in north London these two sides who had served up an uncontrolled but entertaining encounter in Lisbon in the first leg once again produced a memorable clash.

Gabriel Jesus was the focus pre-match and he looked sharp on his first start since November, lasting 45 minutes as he stepped up his comeback from knee surgery and wasn’t far off marking his return with a goal from Reiss Nelson’s cross 15 minutes in.

Soon after Arsenal were ahead. Jorginho had lobbed a through pass into the box for Fabio Vieira moments earlier but his slide rule effort from his own half was the defence-splitter he’d been looking for, sending Martinelli racing through on goal. When the Brazilian’s shot was parried into Xhaka’s path, the Swiss had a simple finish.

Arsenal had already lost Takehiro Tomiyasu to injury by then and William Saliba limped off before play got back under way but the disruption to the backline didn’t affect their forward play, with Sporting goalkeeper Adan sharp to keep out Martinelli and Jesus in quick succession.

Sporting's Marcus Edwards, right, duels for the ball with Arsenal's Reiss Nelson, center, during the Europa League round of 16, second leg, soccer match between Arsenal and Sporting CP at the Emirates stadium in London, Thursday, March 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
Sporting’s Marcus Edwards, right, duels for the ball with Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson

However, with Jeremiah St Juste’s powerful dribbles Sporting were dangerous on the break and Ugarte’s drilled shot deflected inches wide just before half-time. They began the second half as they began the first, on top – and this time they made it count in sensational style.

Sporting had pinned Arsenal back from the restart but it was a stunning hit from near the halfway line from Goncalves which pulled them level, catching out Ramsdale.

When Paulinho headed onto the roof of the net from a corner and Marcus Edwards fired a one-on-one chance into Ramsdale’s face, it felt as though the momentum of the tie had swung in Sporting’s favour.

But chances came for Arsenal in extra-time and Trossard was agonisingly close to clinching it when Adan got a hand to his shot, with the ball skidding off the wet surface and against the woodwork.

In the final moments of play there was another super stop to keep out Gabriel before Diomande denied the defender on the goal-line. After all that, there was still time for Ugarte to be sent off, shown a second yellow for sliding in on Bukayo Saka.

Martin Odegaard, Saka and Trossard were assured from the spot but Martinelli’s strike down the middle failed to match their conviction and Nuno Santos made it five from five for Sporting to knock out their hosts.

Sporting players celebrate after the penalty shootout during the Europa League round of 16, second leg, soccer match between Arsenal and Sporting CP at the Emirates stadium in London, Thursday, March 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
Sporting players celebrate after the penalty shootout

Arteta: A huge blow, we had big chances

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “A huge blow, we really wanted to go through and fight for the competition. Congratulations to Sporting Lisbon for going through.

“We didn’t find our rhythm and flow, we allowed too many spaces, and gave the ball away many, many times. In the last 20 minutes we got the flow, created three big chances and we didn’t score. In extra-time we showed incredible energy again and top mentality and we had two big chances. But in the penalty shootout it’s a lottery.

“The disappointment isn’t going to go away but it brings clarity. We have a final now: Crystal Palace.”

Opta stats – Another Europa League knockout defeat at the Emirates for Arsenal

  • Arsenal have failed to win any of their last five knockout stage games at the Emirates Stadium in the UEFA Europa League (D3 L2), since beating Valencia 3-1 in May 2019.
  • Sporting have won their first ever penalty shootout in Europe having lost each of their previous two (vs Dinamo Minsk in November 1984 & Napoli in September 1989).
  • Arsenal have alternated between winning (2) and losing (3) each of their five penalty shootouts in Europe. Today’s shootout was the Gunners’ 23rd overall in all competitions and just their second on home soil after a 9-8 win vs Rotherham at Highbury in October 2003.
  • Pote’s equaliser for Sporting (46.05 yards) was the longest-range goal scored in a UEFA Europa League game since Harry Winks’ strike for Spurs against Ludogorets Razgrad in November 2020 (53.98 yards).
  • Manuel Ugarte’s sending off was Sporting’s fourth red card in Europe this season, more than any other side (excl. qualifiers).

When are the quarter-finals?

The first legs of the quarter-finals will be played Thursday April 13.

The second legs will be played Thursday April 20.

When are the semi-finals?

The first legs of the semi-finals will be held on May 11, and the second legs on May 18.

When is the final?

The final takes place on May 31 at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary.

What’s next?

Arsenal are back in Premier League action on Sunday at 2pm when they host Crystal Palace. Watch free highlights of that match on the Sky Sports website, App or YouTube page.

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