Arsenal conceded a Nayim-style goal from the halfway line as they crashed out of Europe on penalties on Thursday night – and suffered two injuries which could hit their title challenge.
Former Tottenham star Nayim scored a famous long-range winner against the Gunners in the 1995 European Cup Winners’ Cup final. And on Thursday night, in the first European knockout tie at a packed Emirates since the pandemic, ex-Wolves midfielder Pedro Goncalves netted a Hollywood goal from just inside the Arsenal half over England keeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Extra-time could not separate the teams and after seven successful spot kicks, Gabriel Martinelli saw his spot kick saved by Sporting keeper Antonio Adan before sub Nuno Santos crashed the winning penalty past Ramsdale. Mikel Arteta has still to win a home European knockout game since taking over in December 2019.
The defeat came at the cost of injuries to Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba, who were replaced before the second half for the Premier League leaders. Gabriel Jesus was withdrawn at half-time as planned and had looked like inspiring the Arsenal attack. The Brazilian had a 16th-minute shot pawed away by Antonio Adan from a Reiss Nelson cross. He also forced the Sporting keeper into a low save later in the half.
But when Adan blocked a shot from Gabriel Martinelli with his legs after 19 minutes, Xhaka followed up to sweep home his second goal of the competition – and thumbed his nose in celebration. Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz is famous for showing the yellow card to four players in one second during a league match last season – and the scorers lost count of his cautions during the Argentina-Holland World Cup match.
He waved away a Fabio Vieira penalty appeal in the first half but the FIFA official looked more at home booking the Portuguese and Xhaka before the break. Gabriel Jesus had his foot stood on by Manuel Ugarte during the first half and he did not reappear after the break as Leandro Trossard came on; although it is understood his withdrawal was planned as Arsenal look to slowly re-introduce him back into the first-team picture.
Yet Sporting were to dominate the second period amid an increasingly nervous atmosphere at the Emirates. Ramsdale had to get down to parry Ricardo Esgaio’s cross. The England goalkeeper could get nowhere near Goncalves’ long-range shot after 65 minutes which sailed over his head into the net from 46 yards – the longest distance of any goal in the Europa League this season.
Oleksandr Zinchenko gathered the shellshocked Arsenal players together in a huddle before Areta sent on Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka to huge applause. Ramsdale saved face – and kept Arsenal in the tie – with a brave block from Edwards when he was clean through after 72 minutes – and needed treatment before soldiering on.
Trossard hit the post in injury time before Martin Odegaard finally came on and Adan produced a stunning save from a Gabriel header. And Manuel Ugarte was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Saka.