Sporting CP and Arsenal played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
Arsenal started brightly and took the lead in the 22nd minute when William Saliba headed in a corner from Fabio Vieira. However, Sporting responded well and equalised 12 minutes later through Goncalo Inacio’s header from a corner kick.
The game became very open and both sides had chances to take the lead before halftime. But the score remained 1-1 going into the break.
The second half started with Arsenal creating several chances but it was Sporting who scored against the run of play, as Paulinho tapped in after Romaine Turner parried a shot into his path.
However, Arsenal responded quickly as Hidemasa Morita turned the ball into his own net while trying to intercept Granit Xhaka’s pass.
Both teams pushed for a late winner but the match ended in a 2-2 draw, setting up an intriguing second leg at the Emirates Stadium.
Sporting v Arsenal player ratings
Sporting player ratings
Adan – 7.9
Inacio – 7.8
Coates – 6.7
St. Juste – 7.3
Matheus – 6.4
Goncalves – 6.0
Morita – 5.0
Esgaio – 7.1
Trincao – 7.1
Paulinho – 7.2
Edwards – 8.1
Sporting player ratings – subs
Nuno Santos – 6.0
Abdul Issahaku – 6.7
Ousmane Diomande – 6.7
Youssef Chermiti – 6.2
Arsenal player ratings
Turner – 7.1
Zinchenko (subbed off in the 63rd minute) – 7.2
Kiwior (subbed off in the 71st minute) – 5.9
Saliba – 8.2
White – 6.2
Xhaka – 7.6
Jorginho (subbed off in the 71st minute) – 7.1
Vieira – 7.4
Nelson (subbed off in the 71st minute) – 7.2
Martinelli – 7.7
Saka – 8.3
Arsenal player ratings subs
Takehiro Tomiyasu – 7.5
Thomas Partey – 6.4
Gabriel – 6.8
Emile Smith Rowe- 6.3
Sporting v Arsenal stats
- Ball possession: Arsenal 68%, Sporting CP 32%
- Expected goals (xG): Arsenal 2.07, Sporting CP 2.04
- Total shots: Arsenal 14, Sporting CP 10
- Big chances: Arsenal 3, Sporting CP 5
- Big chances missed: Arsenal 2, Sporting CP 3
- Accurate passes: Arsenal 567 (88%), Sporting CP 233 (75%)
- Fouls committed: Arsenal 6, Sporting CP 9
- Offsides: Arsenal 1, Sporting CP0
- Corners: Arsenal 9, Sporting CP 3
Sporting 2 v Arsenal 2 other stats
- In European competition, Paulinho has become the second player to score against both Arsenal and Tottenham in a single season, after Youssef El Arabi achieved this feat for Olympiakos in the 2019-20 season (excluding qualifying rounds).
- Fábio Vieira has provided six assists in all competitions for Arsenal this season, with only Bukayo Saka (9) contributing more.
- Arsenal remain unbeaten in five European football matches against Sporting, winning two and drawing three.
- In their previous 10 games across all competitions, Arsenal have managed to keep a clean sheet in just two matches.
What did Mikel Arteta say after the game?
on the game being scrappy:
When you concede two poor goals like we did today away from home in Europe, it’s very difficult to get the positive result that we expected. I think the game had different phases, especially because we gave too many balls away, too many simple balls in our own half and we gave them hope and we gave them the capacity to go into transition moments that they are good at. In the moments we had to take control of the game and we lost a little bit of threat today, especially with the front players that we are missing in our frontline. We had some positive because we showed a lot of resilience to get back in the game, but we need to defend our box much better and we have to be in the return leg to beat them.
on if Sporting’s first goal was due to a lack of communication:
I don’t know what it was. It’s very difficult when it happens in a second, but for sure in that space, somebody cannot have a free header and you concede a goal because it’s too simple.
on taking the Europa League seriously:
We’re not [giving up on this competition] and today we had to go against a few issues that we’ve had in the last few days where we’ve lost a few players. We lost four or three or our strikers, but in this competition if you want to go through, you’re going to have to go through difficult moments. We knew that, we are alive, everything is still to play for at the Emirates and hopefully we will play better and deserve to win the game.
on conceding another set-piece goal:
Sometimes the opponents and really good at what they do. When they get the delivery right, in the right space, it’s just half a centimetre sometimes whether you get that header out of the box or if it goes in. It’s true that it’s something that we must improve dramatically in the next few games if you want to keep winning games.
on Fabio Vieira’s development:
We’re really happy with him, I think he deserves more minutes than he’s had especially in the last two months. Obviously he had a difficult start because he was injured as soon as he joined so he required a bit of time to get back to the level that we want. You saw tonight he was one of our dangerous players, making things happen and he’s a player that I absolutely love.
on his opposite number Ruben Amorim:
What I said before the game is that I really like him. I think what he and the coaches have done over the last few years is remarkable and they are a really good team, so obviously credit to the manager because you can see that he has a really clear idea.
on summing up our performances from the last few weeks:
We are conceding too many simple goals and we’ve talked about the importance of boxes, and especially in a competition where you are in or out. Today we didn’t defend that well enough, and we have to do better up against our opponents. We’ve had a lot of really emotional games recently, and today we made a lot of changes, meaning that cohesion needs some time. You could feel that in the first 10-15 minutes that we needed some time to adapt and to click, but if we don’t expose them, that’s never going to happen.
When is Arsenal vs Sporting in the second leg?
Arsenal will play Sporting CP in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League last second on Thursday 16 March with an 8pm kick-off. The game will be shown live on BT Sport.
When is the Europa League quarter-final draw?
The draw will take place on March 17, 2023, and will be available to stream for free on UEFA’s official website.