Arsenal are out of the race for Europa League. The Premier League leaders were knocked out by Sporting Lisbon FC in penalties after the second leg was drawn 1-1.
Having already drawn the first leg 2-2 in Portugal, the Gunners fielded a strong XI that made an impact instantly. Granit Xhaka, the skipper of Arsenal, gave the home team the lead in the 19th minute at Emirates Stadium. For Sporting, Pedro Goncalves scored a stunning goal to level the scoreline. Goncalves’s audacious goal was reminiscent of David Beckham’s long-range chip for Manchester United against Wimbledon that launched him to superstardom in 1996.
Both the teams tried their level best to get the upper hand. But the game was forced to penalties. In penalties, Martin Ødegaard, Bukayo Saka, and Leandro Trossard got their names on the scoresheet. While Gabriel Martinelli’s penalty shoot was saved by Lisbon’s goalkeeper Antonio Adan. For Lisbon, all their players were successful in penalties. Hence, ensuring their team’s successful path to the quarterfinals of the Europa League.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was disappointed with the team’s performance yesterday. He said, “A huge blow obviously. There were moments in the first 75 minutes where we weren’t at our level. We gave every ball away and we didn’t have the capacity to take the game. Arteta further added, “We had big chances to finish the game. We have to look at ourselves and why we were not good enough to go through.”
Arsenal hasn’t won a European trophy since lifting the Cup-Winners’ Cup in 1994 and their wait will go on for another year. But the Gunners would gladly swap Europa League success for a long-awaited Premier League title.