Xhaka believes Sporting CP draw was fair result

Granit Xhaka felt that in hindsight, taking a 2-2 draw home from Sporting CP isn’t the worst result, as it keeps us very much in contention for a quarter-final berth.

The midfielder played his part in ensuring we remained level with our Portuguese opponents after his shot cannoned into the net off Hidemasa Morita to pull us level, having seen the game turn on its head following William Saliba’s opener.

However, while he felt that a better performance might have seen us taking a lead back to Emirates Stadium, the aim before the match was to ensure we had to stay in the tie and in that case, it was very much mission accomplished.

“We spoke before the game that we have to be smart,” he said to post-match. “We knew that we had two games and at this level, in this competition, we have to be smart, because if you come open straight away you can lose 3-1 or 4-1 here and it’s much more difficult to overturn.

“I think that we can win and lose this game today as well, so I think the draw is OK for both sides, now let’s see what happens in the second game.”

The Swiss midfielder was impressed by our opponents, who provided plenty of dangerous moments throughout the contest and forced Matt Turner into a number of saves as well as getting on the scoresheet twice.

However he feels that should we play to our potential, he feels we’ll be in good shape to progress to the quarter-finals, especially backed by our own supporters who he was thrilled to see in the away section having made the trek to Portugal to cheer us on once again.

Reflecting on the game, he added: “You go 1-0 up and afterwards, you concede two easy goals and at this level, it can’t happen. We came back to 2-2, we take the 2-2 back to London and try to finish the game there.

“They’re a good team, they have good footballers as well. We saw they had a lot of discipline at the back, but we can do much better than today. We have two legs of games to play, we take the 2-2 back to London and try to finish it there.

“The support this season has been unbelievable and we want to give them something back for this season as well, so we’ll try our best.”

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