The showdowns of the Europa League Round of 16 saw some dramas. While teams like Manchester United and Juventus easily claimed their tickets into the Quarterfinals, there were unimaginable upsets, like Union SG shockingly eliminating Union Berlin. But Sporting kicking Arsenal out of the Europa League was the main headline of this fixture.
After a 2-2 draw in Portugal, Arsenal marched onto the second leg with home ground Emirates as their mental support. But not even ten minutes in, Arsenal was given a cold shower when Takehiro Tomiyasu suffered an injury and had to leave the match. Despite that, the English team controlled the match’s tempo with a much better squad depth. And in the 19th minute, Granit Xhaka whipped a tremendous left-footed shot into the bottom corner to open the scoreline. The Arsenal fans couldn’t celebrate for long, though. Only two minutes later, their defensive leader William Saliba went down and had to leave the pitch.
With a goal in hand, in the second half, Mikel Arteta directed the players to slow the pace and let Sporting take control. The plan went smooth sailing until the 62nd minute. Granit Xhaka’s misplaced pass went toward Pedro Gonçalves. The young Portuguese star noticed Ramsdale was straying far from the goal and took his chance from the middle of the field. An absolute screamer sailed above Ramsdale’s head and tied the game for Sporting. After that goal, the green-and-white team had some decent chances, including Marcus Edwards failing to connect in a one-on-one.
Match was sent to overtime. In this period, Arsenal took over the possession game again. Gabriel had a couple of headers that could seal the game, but goalkeeper Antonio Adan had himself a day stopping every shot, sending the game to a penalty shootout.
Sporting was the calmer team in this tiebreaker, scoring all five chances, while Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli failed to connect. A 5-3 win in penalty sent Sporting Lisbon to the next stage of the competition.
Europa League Quarterfinals Draw
Sporting will join Manchester United, Sevilla, Union SG, Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen, and Feyenoord in the last Eight. The draw will take place on Friday.
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