Arsenal and Sporting CP played a dramatic draw in the first leg of the Europa League Round 16 tie in Portugal.
Sporting CP: Antonio Adan; Jeremiah St. Juste, Sebastian Coates, Goncalo Inacio; Ricardo Esgaio, Hidemasa Morita, Pedro Goncalves, Matheus Reis; Trincao, Paulinho, Marcus Edwards.
Arsenal: Matt Turner; Ben White, William Saliba, Jakub Kiwior, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Fabio Vieira, Jorginho, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson.
Arsenal dominated proceedings with a clinical start with the dribbles, balance, attacking pace, and possession.
The Premier League title hopefuls forced Sporting CP to an underwhelming start despite playing in front of their home fans.
Following a relatively poor start against the Premier League high-flyers, Sporting CP dropped all their 10 men behind the ball, defending against a high-pressing Arsenal.
Despite having a firm grip on proceedings going forward, the Gunners struggled to break through Sporting CP’s brink wall defense.
Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli failed to break through the host’s box from the wings, leaving the Gunners with no other alternative than to attempt crosses into the box.
After a marathon of pressure, the Gunners finally broke the goal deadlock in the 22nd minute.
A brilliant header from Saliba after Viera’s outswinger from a corner kick gave the Gunners the lead. Saliba broke off his marker and headed pass Adan to deliver the Gunners in front.
Sporting CP began to break off the back and made efforts upfront after Arsenal’s opener.
In the 34th minute, Inacio made it 1-1 for the home team after a glancing header that left Turner stunned following a corner kick.
Arsenal tried to put up a quick response after the scores was leveled. Viera nearly put the Gunners back in the lead in stoppage time of the first half, but Sporting were quick to clear the lines.
Sporting held off the Gunners’ late pressure as they settled for a dramatic 1-1 draw after the first half.
However, the Gunners were the better side throughout the first half but needed more attacking edge to break through Sporting CP’s defense.
Arsenal maintained a clinical start as the second half began and were looking set to regain their lead.
Shockingly, they conceded a cheap goal in the 55th minute against the run of play.
Goncalves had fired on goal after being played into a good position by Edwards. Turner saved it but parried it into the way of Paulinho who tapped it in to give Sporting the lead.
After conceding the second goal, Arsenal ramped up their attempt to find an equaliser and secured their second goal just 7 minutes after Sporting CP’s second strike. Xhaka had tried to locate Martinelli with a shot but Morita’s interception turned into an own goal bringing the scoreline to a 2-2 draw.
Both sides made late substitutions trying to get their way pass the other all to no avail as the match finally ended in a 2-2 draw.