Arsenal 1-0 Porto (Agg: 1-1, Arsenal win 4-2 on penalties): Gunners reach Champions League quarter-finals


Arsenal forward Leandro Trossard

Arsenal reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2010 after beating Porto in a penalty shootout following a night of tension at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners went into this last-16 second leg 1-0 down but drew level when Leandro Trossard put them ahead on the night four minutes before the interval with a smooth finish following brilliant work by captain Martin Odegaard.

A scrappy, fractious encounter failed to yield a winner even after extra time and it was Arsenal who held their nerve to go through to the last eight.

Odegaard, Kai Havertz, Bukayo Saka and Declan Rice were all on target for Arsenal as David Raya saved from Wendell and Galeno to seal victory for Mikel Arteta’s side amid scenes of wild celebration.

Arsenal pass Porto test

Arsenal only trailed to Galeno’s last-gasp goal from the first game in Portugal, but it quickly became clear they would need to pass a stern test of character, temperament and patience against Sergio Conceicao’s streetwise, experienced team.

Porto, defensively marshalled and organised by the evergreen 41-year-old Pepe, never allowed Arsenal to play with their usual fluency and Trossard’s goal, created after superb footwork and a pass of precision from Odegaard, was a rare moment of weakness from the visitors’ defence.

Arsenal probed but Porto still posed a threat, Raya saving well from Evanilson and Francisco Conceicao.

Odegaard thought he had settled Arsenal’s nerves and put them through without the need for extra time with a second half strike. However, it was ruled out when Havertz was judged to have pulled back Pepe.

The anxiety and anger even reached the technical area, with Porto coach Conceicao an agitated, animated figure throughout, and it threatened to boil over with frustration after their fate was sealed by Raya’s flying save in a chaotic conclusion.

At the end of a nervous night, it was Arsenal who were celebrating with Arteta finally ending his European curse at home, having managed five Europa League ties at Emirates Stadium without winning any.

It also felt like a psychological barrier had been crossed by the Gunners after losing at the last-16 stage in each of their past seven appearances in the Champions League.

And having reached the last eight, Arsenal might just feel they have learned enough from this tough experience to take their journey deeper into the competition.

Gunners set up dream season finale

Arsenal have had the ideal few days, breaking that barrier into the last eight of Europe’s elite competition while also taking their place at the top of the Premier League.

Their dramatic win against Brentford and the draw between their two closest challengers Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday means they top the league on goal difference.

It also means Arsenal have that feeling of momentum to carry forward into the final stage of the season, fighting both in domestic and European competition.

Arsenal’s next game is the mammoth clash with Premier League champions Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on 31 March and Arteta now has time to take a breath and regather his forces in a position of real strength.



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