Arsenal crashed out of the Europa League last night after what was the first ever penalty shootout at The Emirates. It was all looking good for Arsenal who took a one goal lead on the night, giving them a 3-2 advantage on aggregate thanks to Granit Xhaka’s strike.
However, a wonder strike from Pedro Goncalves just inside the Arsenal half left Aaron Ramsdale red faced inbetween the sticks. Both sides couldn’t find a winner in the remaining half an hour and the game went to penalties.
With the game in extra-time, Manuel Ugarte was sent off for the visitors, but with just a couple of minutes remaining, The Gunners couldn’t make their extra man advantage count.
Arsenal 3-3 Sporting Lisbon (aggregate) 3-5 on penalties
Gabriel Martinelli was the unfortunate man for the hosts to miss his spot kick, with the Sporting line up flawless as Ramsdale was answerless as all five players converted. His performance was so poor that a video has gone viral of his ‘attempts’ at stopping the spot kicks.
Xhaka’s strike 19 minutes into the clash saw him dedicate the goal to his daughter who was watching on TV at home, the gesture he made with his hand up to his face was replicated by his daughter to the TV, but the Sporting players showed no mercy.
After the game, Goncalves was celebrating his side progressing to the next round of the tournament, knocking out the fancied Arsenal. But he wasn’t the only one, Sporting’s official account also used the celebration, pretty wild I know.
View: Granit Xhaka’s celebration explained and then mocked by Sporting
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) March 16, 2023
— Sporting Clube de Portugal (@Sporting_CP) March 17, 2023
It’s certainly an interesting take to mock a player dedicating a goal to his daughter, but it’s the path the Sporting players and staff chose to take, despite the heartbreak, Arsenal can turn their full attentions to the final string of Premier League games, aiming to clinch the title.
They have no other distractions, which puts them in a great position, however, last night didn’t only knock their confidence, with two players leaving the field with suspected injuries.
First of all, they lost Takehiro Tomiyasu after just nine minutes, with William Saliba following him just 12 minutes later. Two defensive injuries could be a huge blow for them at this point of the season, however, if they’re not serious, the international break has come at the perfect time for them to give both defenders time to recover for the run in.