We bowed out of the Europa League after losing the first-ever penalty shoot out at Emirates Stadium.
Gabriel Martinelli saw his spot kick saved in the shoot out, allowing Nuno Santos to convert the winner, after a 1-1 draw on the night, and a 3-3 draw on aggregate.
When Granit Xhaka fired us ahead inside the opening 20 minutes there was little sign of the drama in store on a long evening at the Emirates.
But we failed to build on the lead and were punished when Pedro Goncalves scored an outrageous equaliser from near the halfway line.
We came close to the winner several times in extra-time – notably from Gabriel and when Leandro Trossard hit the post – before Sporting had a man sent off late on.
Spot kicks were needed, and although Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard all scored, Martinelli had his effort saved by Antonio Adan and the Portuguese side advance.
Granit grabs the lead
After a fairly pedestrian opening 15 minutes, Gabriel Jesus, back in the starting line-up for the first time since November, had our first attempt on goal.
Reiss Nelson did well to curl in a cross from the right and Jesus arrived at the far post, but was unable to make proper contact with his shot and the keeper clawed it away.
It was only a temporary respite for Sporting though.
Gabriel Martinelli streaked away down the right wing after being found by a raking Jorginho pass, and headed into the box. His low shot was parried by Antonio Adan, but there was Xhaka to finish smartly first-time inside the post.
Wearing the armband in place of the rested Martin Odegaard, it was Xhaka’s fifth goal of the season – his best return for us.
As we kicked off to restart the game, William Saliba was withdrawn to be replaced by Rob Holding. Takehiro Tomiyasu had already been replaced by Ben White as Mikel Arteta was forced to make early alterations to his back line.
Sporting, fourth in the Portuguese top flight, and unbeaten in seven games coming into the game, had started the brighter of the two teams, but our goal settled us down, despite the defensive reshuffle.
Jesus looked a man on a mission on his return to the Emirates, and on the half hour mark he weaved his way into the box, taking on his markers before forcing a good low save from the keeper.
But that was his last meaningful action of his evening, as he was replaced by Leandro Trossard at half-time.
We started the second half as we started the first, slightly off the pace.
Gabriel and Holding both made good blocks inside the area as Sporting went in search of the equaliser.
We struggled to get going again, and it was Sporting who took advantage, with an extraordinary goal on the hour mark.
Jorginho was dispossessed on the halfway line and Pedro Goncalves moved onto the ball. He took a touch, spotted Aaron Ramsdale well off his line and sent his shot looping over the keeper, and just under the bar. He was fully 45 yards out and the incredible strike sent the away fans into raptures.
Arteta responded by sending on Bukayo Saka and Thomas Partey, but the Portuguese side were full of belief now.
The intensity picked up. Ramsdale came to the rescue when Marcus Edwards raced through on goal one on one. The former Tottenham looked favourite to score, but our keeper raced out bravely to deny him, taking the shot square in his face.
The visitors were on top now. Fabio Vieira saw his free kick saved and Granit Xhaka couldn’t rise high enough at the far post to meet a Trossard corner but Sporting were always a threat on the break.
But there were no further goals in regular time and with the away goals rule no longer applying, we headed for the extra half hour.
Trossard had a great chance to score the vital goal seven minutes into extra-time. He pounced on a loose back pass, bore down on goal but his shot rebounded off the post away to safety as the keeper did just enough.
Holding headed over at the near post from a Saka corner at the end of the first half, as penalties loomed.
Partey cracked a shot wide after the restart and Odegaard shot wide, before Trossard just lost his footing inside the box as we finished strongly.
Gabriel had a header well saved then a shot from close range blocked in quick succession before Manuel Ugarte was sent off for a rash challenge on Saka.
We couldn’t find the vital second though, and penalties were needed to find a winner.
Jeremiah St Juste scores 0-1
Martin Odegaard scores 1-1
Ricardo Esgalo scores 1-2
Bukayo Saka scores 2-2
Goncalo Inacio scores 2-3
Leandro Trossard scores 3-3
Arthur Gomes scores 3-4
Gabriel Martinelli misses (saved) 3-4
Nuno Santos scores 3-5
What it means
Our European campaign is over for another season, meaning we have 11 games left this season, all in the Premier League.
We’re back in Premier League action at the weekend, when we host Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon. It’s our last action before the international break.
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