Sporting CP have beaten Arsenal in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw at the Emirates in the second leg of the Europa League round of 16.
The visitors conquered in the shootout after Antonio Adan saved Gabriel Martinelli’s attempt. The Brazilian was the only player to fail to convert as Sporting won 5-3.
The gunners survived the tragic evening as it ascertained to be an expensive defeat when they also lost defenders, William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu to injuries early on.
Mikel Arteta’s side looked to be on their way to a comfortable victory as Granit Xhaka gave them a first half-lead, putting them 3-2 ahead of aggregate after the 2-2 first leg draw in Lisbon last week.
But the visitors produced a superb second-half display and deservedly drew level, thanks to a stunning equaliser from Pedro Goncalves, who lobbed Aaron Ramsdale from just inside the Arsenal half to take the game to extra-time.
Mikel Arteta’s young Arsenal side have been set on making history this season and, in a way, they did so here.
Never before has there been a competitive penalty shootout at the Emirates Stadium and, against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, the history books will show that this first decider went against the home side.
According to GOAL, it was not, clearly, the memory that Arsenal had hoped to create in their own home. Nor was it the performance that Arteta would have expected from his players, who have been so strong in the Premier League but looked so flimsy for so much of this game in European competition.
More concerning than the shootout defeat, perhaps, is the effect of this gruelling encounter on the physical state of Arsenal’s squad.
William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu both limped out of the game in the first half, while the likes of Leandro Trossard and Oleksandr Zinchenko were hobbling painfully by the end of extra time.
With Crystal Palace looming on Sunday, Arsenal’s medical team must move quickly to fix the bodies of the players. And Arteta must also move quickly to ensure this loss does not do any damage to their psychological condition. A penalty shootout defeat, in front of your own fans, is never pleasant.
“For most of the game we weren’t on the level we should be,” said Martin Odegaard, the Arsenal captain.
“We didn’t play our best football. We have to remember it’s been a great season. It is a big blow to go out of this competition, but now we look forward to the league, that’s all we can do now.
“We win and lose together. When we’re winning everyone is happy, when we lose we have to pick up the spirit,” he added.
As memorable as the shootout, if not more so, was Sporting’s astonishing equaliser on the night. Pedro Goncalves might never again score a goal like it, having launched the ball towards Aaron Ramsdale’s goal from close to the halfway line.
It soared almost in slow-motion, from what must have been a different postcode, before dipping at the last second and falling softly into the Arsenal net.
Arsenal’s goal keeper, Aaron Ramsdale, Caught out by Pedro Goncalves’ stunning strike, but made a superb save to deny Edwards soon after.
According to Telgraph sports, extra time, admittedly, was different. Arteta threw Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey and Odegaard into the action and Arsenal dominated, seeking the goal that would settle the tie in their favour and keep alive their European dream. When Manuel Ugarte was shown a red card for clattering Saka, it felt as if Arsenal had finally won the mental battle.
Adan had other ideas, though, and his reflexes proved decisive in the final minutes of extra time, when he saved from Gabriel Magalhaes, and then in the penalty shootout, when he dived to his left to deny Martinelli.
Five good penalties. Arsenal’s long wait for a European trophy continues and Sporting go through to the quarter-finals.
Is defeat a disaster for Arsenal? As a result, no. The league is their priority. But the physical and psychological impact of this evening could be significant, and they will not know until Sunday, when they meet Patrick Vieira’s struggling Palace, how costly this night might be.