Sporting 0-1 Arsenal: Europa League – as it happened

Arsenal made it 11 wins on the bounce in all competitions after Danny Welbeck pounced on a Sebastián Coates error to score the winner

Read Amy Lawrence’s match report from Lisbon

Summary

That is Arsenal’s first ever win on Portuguese soil, and after a pretty forgettable first half, they really turned it on in the second period and thoroughly deserve their win. Welbeck had a perfectly good goal ruled out, and Aubameyang and Ramsey looked a constant threat on the counter-attack.

Sporting started brightly but failed to have a shot on target. A lot of credit to Rob Holding, who marshalled Arsenal’s defence and saw off what little threat Nani and Acuna provided from wide areas.

Arsenal will qualify from Group E with two wins to spare if they can beat Sporting at home in the reverse fixture. That’s fine work going into a busy Christmas period, Emery should have the chance to rest his key players and give the youngsters a chance: Emile Smith Rowe will be licking his lips at that.

Here are the full-time results in the early Europa League kick-offs: notably Milan lost 2-1 at home to Betis, while Celtic lost 2-0 at RB Leipzig.

Full-time results in the Europa League.
Full-time results in the Europa League. Photograph: Guardian

The late kick offs are just about to start: you can follow Chelsea v Bate Borisov with Simon Burnton …

and Rangers v Spartak Moscow with Niall McVeigh. Rangers top Group G, remember!

Thanks for reading, and for your tweets and emails. See you next time. Bye!

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Full-time: Sporting 0-1 Arsenal

Eleven wins on the bounce for the Gunners!

Xhaka applauds their fans after winning the match 1-0.
Xhaka applauds their fans after winning the match 1-0. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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90+4 min: Another yellow card for Sporting, who have spent injury-time fouling their way an ugly end, rather than going for an equaliser. Battaglia the guilty party.

90+3 min: Jovane is given a yellow for tripping Ramsey as Arsenal set off on the counter-attack. There was also an incident involving Coates, who head-butted Lichtsteiner off the ball, but the officials missed it! Coates has had a torrid night, but will surely get retrospective punishment for that.

90+2 min: Free-kick to Sporting, with Petrovic fouled. Here come the cavalry, Coates and Pinto up from the back. It’s a wicked set-piece from Nani, and it’s another brilliant header away by Holding, who has been near-faultless tonight. Lichtsteiner stays down, clutching his shoulder but is up to defend the subsequent corner, which is well claimed by Leno. That’s excellent goalkeeping – the German has had nothing to do all night, but took the pressure off his team when needed.

90 min: More long-range shooting from Sporting, more goal-kicks for Arsenal, who look very comfortable at the moment.

Five minutes (!) added on here for injury time.

88 min: Corner for Arsenal. They take it short, and are happy to try and time-waste. Why not, 1-0 away here would be an excellent result.

86 min: Whenever BT Sport’s Jon Champion says Acuna’s name in commentary, I whisper ‘Matata’ under my breath.

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84 min: Arsenal make their final change: Iwobi (who has been very impressive of late), for Aubameyang.

82 min: Sporting are beginning to edge back into this, certainly in terms of possession. But they are really struggling for any clear-cut openings – they are yet to have a shot on target. After a corner is cleared, Bruno Gaspar tries his luck from 30 yards and the ball flies into Row Z.

80 min: And just like that, Emery takes Welbeck off! Strange one, not only because Welbeck has just scored, but also because he’s been one of Arsenal’s most dangerous players tonight. Should really have had another goal for that header, and had another certain goal/shot blocked six yards out. Anyway, Lacazette is on, Aubameyang will play off the left side now.

GOAL! Sporting 0-1 Arsenal (Welbeck 78)

Coates mis-controls a long ball from Torreira, Welbeck pounces, runs through on goal and powers a low finish between Ribeiro’s legs! Great finish from Welbeck, but that was a shocking error from Coates, who frankly, has been a liability all evening. I’m sure Liverpool and Sunderland thoughts have their own thoughts on the Uruguayan.

Welbeck scores the opener.
Welbeck scores the opener. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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75 min: Acuna goes down clutching his elbow. During the break in play the camera pans to the bench of each team. Carl Jenkinson is on Arsenal’s – the first time he has been involved in a Gunners’ match-day squad in almost two years. On Sporting’s is Jérémy Mathieu, the former Valencia and Barcelona centre-back.

73 min: A quick note about Sporting sub Jovane: he’s scored three times of the bench this season, each of them winning goals. Two of those have been in Sporting’s two Europa League games, too. Ominous.

71 min: Yellow card for Coates, who absolutely clattered Aubameyang 25 yards from goal. Mkhitaryan tries his luck … saved by Ribeiro! He saw it late, but it was at a good height down to his right.

Sporting make their first change: Gudelj off, Jovane on.

69 min: It’s now all Arsenal. Sporting are looking a little leggy here and Guendouzi, Ramsey and Torreira have a lot more time in the middle of the pitch.

GOAL DISALLOWED!

67 min: Welbeck gets up early and powerfully nods a cross into the far corner, but is adjudged by the referee to have fouled his marker, Bruno Gaspar. There was definitely contact but you’ve got to say that is extremely soft free kick for Sporting. It was a magnificent header from Welbeck, who can feel extremely aggrieved not to get his goal. Gaspar lost his footing if anything.

Welbeck heads in, but it’s disallowed.
Welbeck heads in, but it’s disallowed. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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65 min: A lightning quick Arsenal counter-attack comes to an end as Welbeck falls in the Sporting box! No penalty, rules the ref. Good decision, the England man went shoulder to shoulder with Acuna, and the Argentinian was simply stronger.

Welbeck goes down in the box.
Welbeck goes down in the box. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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63 min: Corner to Arsenal, and it’s a good one from Mkhitaryan, but well headed away by Gudelj. Certainly better than the corner 10 minutes ago by Xhaka, who absolutely launched it over everyone in the box, out for a Sporting throw-in on the opposite side.

60 min: The game has stuttered somewhat since that substitution. Elsewhere in Arsenal and Sporting’s group, this has just happened. Oh dear. Vorskla 1-0 up!

58 min: Elsewhere in Europe, Milan still trail 1-0 at home to Betis. Pepe Reina, who is standing in for Gianluigi Donnarumma tonight, is lucky to still be on the field.

Celtic are still 2-0 down away at RB Leipzig.

56 min: Arsenal make their first change: Elneny off, Torreira on. A chance for a breather in what has been a frantic second half thus far.

54 min: This has suddenly become an excellent game and Arsenal are denied an opening goal but an excellent block from Pinto! Guendouzi nutmegs Petrovic on the left side of Sporting’s box, pulls a brilliant low cross to Welbeck, who sweeps it goalwards. The ball ricochets off Pinto’s heel and wide. That was a certain goal before Pinto’s intervention.

Welbeck shoots.
Welbeck shoots. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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51 min: Yellow card for Mkhitaryan, who got on the wrong side of Petrovic in midfield, and blatantly tripped the Sporting No 23. From the free-kick, Acuna swings it in, Coates climbs above Holding and the ball hits the Arsenal defender on the wrist. The ball falls kindly for Leno as Sporting’s fans go mad! Another penalty decision goes against the home side.

49 min: Aubameyang has two golden chances in as many minutes! The first opportunity he is slipped in by Mkhitaryan but forced a little wide, with Ribeiro palming it away for a corner. The second really is a chance you would expect Auba to bury. He races away from Coates (again), with Sporting playing a peculiar high line, and with Aubameyang one-on-one with Sporting’s keeper, the Gabon striker tries to dink it over Ribeiro, who throws up a hand and manages to turn it away!

Aubameyang attempts to lob Ribeiro.
Aubameyang attempts to lob Ribeiro. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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47 min: From the free-kick, Montero heads wide! Arsenal were all at sea as the cross came from Nani, but the Colombian got his angles all wrong despite not having a marker within five yards of him!

46 min: Twenty seconds elapse before referee Damir Skomina shows Holding a yellow card, apparently for a high elbow in an aerial challenge. Replays show that to be a nonsense, he won the ball and didn’t touch Montero with his elbow.

Holding is shown a yellow card by referee Damir Skomina.
Holding is shown a yellow card by referee Damir Skomina. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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Peeeeeeeeep! We’re underway again in Lisbon.

Arsenal have never won in Portugal in six attempts but their recent winning run has included a lot of second half goals. More hot stats, as and when you need them.

Half-time reading: get your eyes round this.

Half-time: Sporting Lisbon 0-0 Arsenal

I’ve watched better halves of football. Sporting have probably edged it.

45 min: Sporting’s right back, Ristovski, looks as though he’s got a problem. He’s hobbling off. Bruno Gaspar is readying himself to come on, but Sporting are having to play with 10 men for now.

One minute added on here.

44 min: Nani gets to the byline, tries a couple of stepovers but Holding is having none of it, and toes the ball out for a corner.

43 min: More bad news for Celtic at RB Leipzig. They are now 2-0 down, Bruma (formerly of Sporting) with the strike.

41 min: Have to say that Sporting’s fans have been absolutely magnificent. They haven’t stopped singing. Haven’t heard a peep out of the travelling Arsenal faithful, who are stuck behind a black net in a far-flung corner of the ground.

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39 min: Yellow card for Acuna, who sort-of-slips on the greasy surface and slides into the ankle of Lichtsteiner. It was actually quite a nasty challenge but not sure that he meant it. Yellow seems to be the right decision.

37 min: Now it is Arsenal who break down their left wing. Welbeck has the legs on Coates, but his touch is heavy and he runs out of room at the byline. Coates just about hacks it away.

35 min: Acuna has probably been Sporting’s best player down their left flank, he nutmegs Lichtsteiner and releases Montero, who crosses to nobody. Still, nice play from the Argentinian international.

34 min: In the other early kick-off, Celtic are 1-0 down at RB Leipzig, with Matheus Cunha getting the goal for the German side. AC Milan are also 1-0 down at home to Real Betis. You can check in on all the latest scores right here.

32 min: A nightmare couple of minutes for Sokratis! He tries to flick a long ball back to Leno, but misses his header and then drags Montero down. Sokratis was the last man for Arsenal, but the referee gives nothing! Replays show that Montero did go to ground easily, but the Greek defender definitely had hold of the striker’s shirt. That could well have been a red card.

Sokratis fouls Montero.
Sokratis fouls Montero. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP

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31 min: Arsenal try to play their way out from the back, but Sokratis passes the pass straight to Nani, who cuts inside and unloads from 25 yards, just over Leno’s bar! That was travelling!

29 min: The ball bounces awkwardly in front of Xhaka, who panics 30 yards from his own goal and punts the ball out for a Sporting corner. Weird.

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27 min: An excellent switch from Guendouzi releases Mkhitaryan down the right. The Armenian has time and space to canter into the Sporting box, but his cross is cut out by a retreating Nani. Poor delivery there, Arsenal had plenty of personnel in the box.

25 min: Arsenal may have lacked fluidity in these opening 25 minutes, but Rob Holding has been imperious at the back. He’s made several crunching tackles and important interceptions, the latest a header away from a good cross from Sporting’s left.

23 min: Emery takes a tumble, felled by Coates clumsily. It was about 0.00056cm outside of Sporting’s penalty box. Free kick to Arsenal wide on the left, Mkhitaryan over it … punched away by Ribeiro! Good goalkeeping, that only just cleared Battaglia head and was awkward for the Brazilian stopper.

20 min: Gudelj has a bit of Sergej Milinković-Savić about him. Tall, strong, mobile, also Serbian.

18 min: Mkhitaryan has had an awkward opening few minutes. He gives the ball away deep in his own half, and Acuna no nearly finds Gudelj in on goal with a cute lofted pass, but it’s just too far in front of the Serbian.

16 min: Nani has just switched to the right flank and completely unnecessarily controlled the ball with his shoulder. I’ve missed Nani.

14 min: Lichtsteiner is doing well to get forward down Arsenal’s right, which is a good thing as Mkhitaryan isn’t the most natural winger. He sends in a deflected cross which almost catches Sebastian Coates (formerly of Liverpool and Sunderland) out, but in the end the Uruguayan clears.

12 min: You’ll be pleased to hear the stadium is nearly full now. The football ain’t great form either side, though, at the moment.

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10 min: A poor challenge by Xhaka on Sporting’s playmaker, Bruno Fernandes. Lucky not to get a yellow, there.

8 min: It’s been a slow start from Arsenal from Arsenal’s point of view. Sporting have packed their midfield and aren’t allowing Ramsey and Elneny any time of space to play through them.

Ramsey under grip from Petrovic.
Ramsey under grip from Petrovic. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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6 min: Acuna ghosts past both Mkhitaryan and Lichtsteiner and gets to the byline but Holding is there at the near post to cut out the cross. Poor defending. Looks like Nani will set up on the left wing tonight for Sporting. Could be a long night for Lichtsteiner.

4 min: Guezdouzi wins a free kick. I’m interested to see the Frenchman in action tonight. After starting the season as Emery’s preferred central midfielder but has lost his place to Torreira of late, in the league at least.

Ozil called him the best young player at the club, in a recent Twitter Q&A.

2 min: Early corner for Sporting, taken by Acuna, Sporting’s left back. He’s wearing No 9! At left-back! The game has officially gone.

The corner is easily cleared.

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1 min: Arsenal are indeed playing a 4-3-3, with Xhaka and Lichtsteiner in the full-back positions.

Peeeeeeeeeeeep! And we’re underway.

The players emerge from the tunnel: Nani is Sporting captain for the night. He hasn’t played since a substitute appearance over two weeks ago, but this is exactly the sort of night you would expect him to turn it on. Aaron Ramsey is Arsenal’s captain for the evening.

The stadium is only two-third full at present, which is probably due to this preposterous kick-off time (Lisbon working hours also run until 7pm). There was also a peaceful workers’ union demonstration against the government earlier in Lisbon today.

Let’s unpack tonight’s teams a little then. By no means Arsenal’s strongest XI, but not far off it, and they have plenty of firepower on the bench. Emery will have one eye on Sunday’s visit to Crystal Palace and will hope that he doesn’t need to call on Ozil, Lacazette and Torreira, who has been excellent in midfield of late. A start instead for

“It suggests Arsenal will be playing a 3-4-1-2 which doesn’t seem right to me, seeing how they have lined up in the past few games,” emails Simon Thomas. “More likely Xhaka is at left back which is a bit of a surprise, even if he did finish there against Leicester (and actually played very well there – although that was partly due to the fact that Leicester stopped attacking down their right).”

Hmmm, Uefa have it as a straight 4-3-3, with Xhaka at left-back and Lichtsteiner at right back, and Mkhitaryan and Welbeck as right/left wing respectively. That seems more likely to me.

On my way to Guardian Towers (sadly not in Lisbon), I cycle past the Emirates Stadium. I guess this is the sort of thing that happens when Arsenal go on a 10-game winnings streak …

… and have their right back on the cover of Mundial.
… and have their right back on the cover of Mundial. Photograph: Michael Butler

Team news

Sporting: Ribeiro; Ristovski, Coates, André Pinto, Acuña; Petrovic, Gudelj; Battaglia; Bruno Fernandes, Nani, Montero. Subs: Salin, Bruno Gaspar, Mathieu, Miguel Luís, Mané, Diaby, Jovane.

Arsenal: Leno; Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Holding; Xhaka, Guendouzi, Elneny, Ramsey; Mkhitaryan; Welbeck, Aubameyang. Subs: Martinez, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Torreira, Iwobi, Özil, Lacazette.

Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN).

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Preamble

When the draw was made for the Europa League, this is the fixture that Arsenal fans will be been most excited about. There are few European trips better than an away day in Lisbon, the food, drinks (PARK Bar is particularly good for anybody that likes a view) and people make it an easy place to spend a Thursday afternoon. It’s 24°C there right now, you might as well stay for the weekend.

But Arsenal aren’t there for a holiday. In fact, Unai Emery is taking this very seriously, and has brought a full squad. Emery won three straight Europa League titles with Sevilla and with the added bonus on a Champions League place to the winner of this competition, he could see this as an easier route back to the top table than a top-four finish in the Premier League. With Arsenal and Sporting are sitting pretty at the top of Group E after two wins from two, you suspect that if the Gunners can triumph tonight, they will win the group and get an easier draw for the knock-out stage.

Despite the fact that Sporting are haven’t won a league title since 2002 – the halcyon days of Mario Jardel and um, Phil Babb – and that they are still recovering from a summer of chaos, this still feels like a Champions League tie tonight.

After the training ground farce at the end of last season in which players were attacked by people claiming to be fans of the club, Sporting are in a period of transition. Big names like Gelson Martins, William Carvalho left and Rui Patricio in the summer, but a core remains. Bas Dost is back in training, Nani is back at the club where he started his career and Bruno Fernandes remains the heartbeat of the side in midfield. Watch out for Fredy Montero, too: the former MLS star has been in great form of late. Make no mistake, the Estádio José Alvalade will be rocking.

Kick off: a quirky 5.55pm (in both Lisbon and London)

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