Arsenal out of Europa League on penalties; Man United advance
Sports Desk, Mar 16 (EFE).- Arsenal were eliminated from the Europa League by Sporting on Thursday, losing in the penalty shootout after the two sides came to the end of two legs plus extra-time knotted at 3-3.
While the Premier League leaders saw their chance of a double go down in flames, Manchester United topped Real Betis 1-0 to win their round-of-16 tie 5-1 on aggregate and advance to the quarterfinals.
After the 2-2 draw in the first leg in Lisbon, the tie was on the line when the Gunners and Sporting faced each other at the Emirates and the hosts edged ahead in the 19th minute with a goal by Granit Xhaka, who knocked in the rebound after goalkeeper Antonio Adan stopped the initial shot from Gabriel Martinelli.
Gabriel Jesus was on the verge of putting Arsenal up by two goals at the half-hour when Adan, 35, produced the first in a series of impressive stops that would prove decisive.
The Gunners were still ahead 3-2 on aggregate as the match clock passed the hour mark, but Sporting’s Pedro Goncalves turned the game upside down with a stunning goal in the 62nd minute, beating Aaron Ramsdale with a strike from just inside Arsenal’s half of the field.
Buoyed by getting the equalizer, Sporting went for more.
Ramsdale did well to thwart former Tottenham man Marcus Edwards from giving Sporting the lead in the 73rd minute and the match went to extra time.
Arsenal, who had nine shots on target to two for the visitors, created all of the opportunities in the added time, but Adan was equal to the task on every occasion.
He slapped away a strike from Leandro Trossard in the 98th minute and stopped Gabriel twice to force a shootout.
Sporting were up 4-3 on kicks when Martinelli stepped to the spot for Arsenal. Adan guessed correctly and saved it, setting the stage for Nuno Santos to win it for the visitors.
Thursday’s contest in Seville between Betis and Manchester United turned out to be a near reprise of the first leg in England, where the score was 1-1 at the break before the hosts exploded for three unanswered goals in the second half.
Just as at Old Trafford last week, Betis played well in the first half, but conceded 10 minutes into the second period, relinquishing their slim hopes of a comeback.
It was the Red Devils’ second visit to the Benito Villamarin this season, the first coming in December for a friendly during the World Cup hiatus.
On that occasion, United – with 14 players away on international duty – were held scoreless and Betis prevailed on a goal by Nabil Fekir, who last month suffered a season-ending injury.
With nothing to lose, the hosts played with freedom and created chances. Joaquin Sanchez sent a shot just wide of the post in the 11th minute and Juanmi forced a save from David de Gea in the 31st.
Only the post stopped Facundo Pellestri, making his first start for United, from adding to the visitors’ advantage on the final kick of the first half.
Betis accelerated the pace in the second half and United began to find openings on the counter.
Marcus Rashford fired over the cross-bar in the 50th minute and was shut down by keeper Rui Silva three minutes later before clinching the quarterfinal berth for United with a blast from 25 yards in the 55th minute.
In other notable matchups, Juventus beat SC Freiburg 2-0 Thursday for a 3-0 win on aggregate and AS Roma held Real Sociedad 0-0 to take the tie by a 2-0 margin.
For Juve, stuck in 7th place in Serie A due to a points deduction for financial misconduct, winning the Europa League is likely their only route to securing Champions League football next season.