Sporting CP outstrike Gunners in Europa League shootout
'Os Leões' eliminate Arsenal on penalties in London
Sporting Clube de Portugal progressed to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League in a thrilling game against Arsenal, which required penalties to decide who would make it out of the Last 16 after a 3-3 aggregate result.
After the 2-2 draw in Alvalade, Os Leões went to the Emirates Stadium, in London, with around 3000 Sportinguistas accompanying them in the English capital.
Five changes were made to the starting XI, as Antonio Adán, Jeremiah St. Juste, Gonçalo Inácio, Francisco Trincão and Paulinho all came in.
Sporting CP's began with authority demonstrating that they hadn't come to London with the intention of playing for a draw. On 13 minutes, the first sign of danger came when Francisco Trincão cut in from the right, shooting slightly wide. In response, Reiss Nelson of Arsenal crossed for Gabriel Jesus, with Antonio Adán blocking well.
Without doing much to deserve it, Arsenal made it 1-0 after 19 minutes. Adán had denied Gabriel Martinelli, but Granit Xhaka snatched the rebound to score.
The Gunners took advantage of the momentum to grow in strength, and could have scored a second shortly after, when Gabriel Jesus' shot forced a tremendous save by Adán.
Closing in on halftime, Sporting CP had two chances: First, Jeremiah St. Juste went on a long solo run and shot wide. Then in stoppage time, Manuel Ugarte tried his luck from afar and was centimeters away from Aaron Ramsdale's goal.
In the second half, Sporting CP started even better, and converted this into attempts by Pedro Gonçalves and Paulinho, the latter off a very dangerous cross by Ricardo Esgaio.
A much deserved equaliser came in the 62nd minute, in spectacular style. Sporting CP recovered the ball in midfield and Pedro Gonçalves, close to 52.5-metres out, shot past the Arsenal goalkeeper to level the game and the tie.
Right after the historic goal, Paulinho headed the ball over the crossbar, then Esgaio set up Marcus Edwards perfectly for a shot saved by Ramsdale.
A free kick by Arsenal's Fábio Vieira, kept out by Adán, and Youssef Chermiti coming in for Paulinho, made no change to the scoreline at the end of regulation time, and the game went into extra time.
In the opening moments of the additional half-hour, Gonçalves and Matheus Reis made way for Dário Essugo and Nuno Santos, respectively.
Adán was again the protagonist in the 97th minute, when a mistake by Sporting CP left Trossard with the ball right in front of the Spanish goalkeeper, who made a quality stop.
Arthur Gomes came in for Trincão as the first half of extra time ended. In the second period, Arsenal pressed harder and in the 117th minute it was only an outstanding response to Gabriel Magalhães' header by Adán that prevented a goal.
Soon after, Ugarte saw his second yellow card, reducing Sporting CP to ten men, but with no goals in extra time, penalties would decide who would go through to the next stage.
The coin toss dictated that the goal to be used was the one closest to the Sporting CP supporters. The first seven penalties were all converted: Jeremiah St. Juste, Ricardo Esgaio, Gonçalo Inácio and Arthur Gomes all dispatched for Sporting CP; Ødegaard, Saka and Trossard for the Gunners.
Everything changed on the eighth spot kick. Gabriel Martinelli struck and Adán guessed correctly, leaving the responsibility to put Sporting CP through to Nuno Santos. He kept his cool, sent the ball into the net and sent his team into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League.
The draw for the next stage, semi-finals and final of the UEFA Europa League is scheduled for this Friday in Nyon, Switzerland.
Sporting CP: Antonio Adán [C] [GR], Jeremiah St. Juste, Ousmane Diomande, Gonçalo Inácio, Ricardo Esgaio, Manuel Ugarte, Pedro Gonçalves (Dário Essugo, 93'), Matheus Reis (Nuno Santos, 93'), Marcus Edwards (Mateo Tanlongo, 119'), Francisco Trincão (Arthur Gomes, 105') and Paulinho (Youssef Chermiti, 79').