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UEL: Sporting Lisbon Knock EPL Leader Out To Enter Quarterfinals

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Sporting Lisbon produced a remarkable comeback to knock out Premier League leaders Arsenal from the Europa League with a 5-3 penalty shootout victory at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.

The first half was dominated by Arsenal, who took the lead through Granit Xhaka’s 19th-minute strike, which followed a rebound from Gabriel Martinelli’s shot that was saved by Antonio Adan. However, the Gunners’ joy was short-lived, as their defender William Saliba limped off injured moments later, and Sporting gradually gained control of the game in the second half.

Sporting’s midfield maestro, Pedro Goncalves, equalized in spectacular fashion in the 62nd minute, beating Arsenal’s goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale with an audacious 46-yard strike, reminiscent of David Beckham’s famous goal for Manchester United against Wimbledon in 1996.

Despite both teams spurning chances to win in extra-time, the game went to penalties, with Sporting holding their nerve to win the shootout 5-3 after Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli missed his spot-kick and Sporting’s Nuno Santos scored the winning penalty.

Sporting Lisbon’s victory was all the more impressive considering they were without their injured captain, Sebastian Coates, and their influential striker, Paulinho, was substituted due to injury in the second half.

For Arsenal, it was a bitterly disappointing night, as they missed the chance to progress to the quarter-finals of the Europa League and add to their only European trophy in 1994. Mikel Arteta’s side had made five changes to their starting line-up, with one eye on their crucial Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

After the match, Arteta rued his side’s missed opportunities and their inability to “take the game” in the first 75 minutes, while also expressing concern about the injuries suffered by Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Arsenal’s focus will now shift to their Premier League campaign, where they sit five points clear of second-placed Manchester City, with 11 games remaining. Arteta will hope his team can bounce back from this setback and maintain their pursuit of a first Premier League title since 2004.

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