Football News

Arsenal beat Porto on spot-kicks to end 14 year Champions League drought

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:50, 12 March 2024

Arsenal required penalties to reach their first Champions League quarter-final since 2010, ending a run of seven consecutive last-16 eliminations.

Mikel Arteta’s men ultimately defeated FC Porto 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium this evening, two weeks after suffering a last-minute 1-0 loss in Portugal, before the contest swiftly moved to a dreaded shootout, which Arsenal came out on top, winning 4-2.

That setback only galvanised their efforts; since returning home, they won three straight Premier League games with a combined scoreline of 12-2.

Sérgio Conceição’s side expected a storm, one their hosts gave them, but the Portuguese giants, with the experienced Pepe, the first outfield player aged 41 or older ever to play a Champions League game, were often capable of controlling or riding through it.

Leandro Trossard, starting ahead of the injured Gabriel Martinelli, eventually broke the deadlock four minutes before half-time. The former Brighton man converted Ødegaard’s first Champions League assist this season and has now scored in all three Champions League appearances at the Gunners home.

Trossard was also at the epicentre of Arsenal’s creativity; the Belgian forward created four goalscoring opportunities, more than anyone who started on either side, while maintaining a near 100% passing accuracy (12/15) before coming off.

His breakthrough didn’t light the touchpaper, and Arteta’s side huffed and puffed in the second half. Porto seldom tested David Raya, but lackadaisical finishing and defensive rigidity forced an extra 30 minutes.

This was only the second time Arsenal had been taken to extra time in a Champions League match, and the first since the 2008-09 last 16 against Roma, in which they eventually progressed on penalties. It was also the first Champions League knockout match to go to a penalty shootout since the 2016 final between Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid.

History repeated itself. Wendell missed Porto’s first spot kick, and compatriot Galeno could only watch Raya save his effort. The Dragons have been eliminated from their last eight major European knockout ties against English opposition since knocking Manchester United out of the 2003-04 Champions League last 16.

Arteta and company will find out who they next face on Friday when the 2023/24 Champions League quarter-final, semi-final and final draws occur.

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