Post-Match Report

Report: Sporting CP 2-2 Arsenal

William Saliba celebrates scoring against Sporting CP

Sporting CP -

Estadio Jose Alvalade
Europa League
Europa League
  Sporting CP
              Inacio (34)
               Paulinho (55)
Sporting CP
Inacio (34) Paulinho (55)
2 2
                  Saliba (22)
                   Morita (62 og)
Saliba (22)
Morita (62 og)

Our Europa League round of 16 tie with Sporting CP is finely poised heading into next week’s encounter after we shared four goals in the first leg.

Headers from corners from William Saliba and Goncalo Inacio had seen the sides go in level at the break, and both continued to trade blows after the restart as Paulinho tapped in from close range before a Granit Xhaka shot spun in off Hidemasa Morita.

The slice of fortune means everything is still to play for at Emirates Stadium in seven days’ time, as both teams extended their unbeaten runs and thus will be eyeing a spot in the quarter-finals.

Saliba strikes first

The hosts offered an early warning when just five minutes in a long ball over the top allowed Pedro Goncalves to scamper down the left, and after he checked back inside Saliba to create a shooting chance, he curled it wide of Matt Turner’s far post.

We didn’t create too many chances of note in the opening 45, but crucially we did manage to convert our first big one. Back in his homeland, Fabio Vieira whipped in a corner and Saliba rose highest and unchallenged to head past Antonio Adan and score his first goal since September.

A fierce drive from Oleksandr Zinchenko that required tipping over by Adan after the Ukrainian’s initial free-kick ricocheted back into his path gave us a small glimmer of hope of doubling our lead, but unfortunately, we couldn’t bring it into the break with us as on 34 minutes Sporting struck back in virtually the same fashion as our opener.

Set-piece suffering

After Incalo had taken aim from 25 yards and forced Turner to push his low strike away for a corner, Marcus Edwards’ set-piece found the same player who had been afforded time and space to easily convert the opportunity.

That spurred the home side on and Turner was swiftly called into action again when Edwards smashed a low shot towards the bottom corner but our American shot-stopper did well to get down again and get the strike around the post.

Corner kicks proved to be the most threatening attacking moments in the game and before the break Granit Xhaka nearly also converted one with his head but Adan managed to stop the ball on his goalline.

Another goal apiece

We began the second half well and were fractions away from retaking the lead when we won possession high up the pitch and Vieira let fly from just outside the box, but the ball agonisingly trickled just wide.

Despite that promising start, we soon found ourselves trailing 10 minutes after the restart. Wing-back Ricardo Esgaio played a neat pass through our defence and Goncalves struck goalwards which Turner managed to parry, but Paulinho was perfectly placed to tuck home the rebound.

We nearly struck back instantly with a wondergoal from Gabriel Martinelli when he dribbled from inside his own half, beat three defenders and rounded the goalkeeper, but Jeremiah St. Juste managed to keep pace and make a crucial last-gasp tackle, and then suddenly Sporting found themselves through on goal when Paulinho went one-on-one with Turner, but shanked a huge opportunity horribly wide.

And that miss proved crucial as we instantly went up the other end and found a way to level on 62 minutes. After we won back possession, Xhaka took aim from range and saw his blast cannon off Morita and creep into the bottom corner past a helpless Adan.

Vieira then came close to getting on the scoresheet when he forced the Sporting shot-stopper to tip over his own bar, but after that rip-roaring start to the second 45, chances fizzled out of the game following a raft of substitutions.

That means the tie remains on a knife-edge for the conclusion in a week’s time back in north London, but does see us remain undefeated against our Portuguese opponents in our five previous encounters.

Facts and stats

Sporting CP have avoided defeat in each of their last four European games against English opposition (W1 D3), while they’re now unbeaten in each of their last six home Europa League fixtures (W4 D2).

We have now won only one of their last six European knockout stage games (D3 L2), while we scored first and didn't won in a Europa League game away from home since November 2019 against Vitoria Guimaraes.

Marcus Edwards has either scored (2) or assisted (1) in his five starts against English opposition in major European club competitions, two of which have been against us in the Europa League, after netting for Vitoria S.C. in October 2019.

Paulinho is only the second player to score against us and Tottenham in a single season in European competition, after Youssef El Arabi for Olympiakos in 2019/20 (excluding qualifying rounds).

What’s next

We head to Craven Cottage on Sunday to take on Fulham in the Premier League, before Sporting make the trip to Emirates Stadium in a week’s time for the return leg.

That week ends with the visit of Crystal Palace to our home on Sunday, March 19.

See Full List

Fixtures & Results

Premier League
Ticket Info