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FutureStarrArsenal Loses in Europa League Quarter-Final
Arsenal's European dreams were dashed by a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Europa League quarter-final. Now, the Red Devils must await either Dinamo Zagreb or Villarreal for a place in the next round.
Mikel Arteta is focused on Thursday's crucial match against Villarreal. He hopes for a positive result that can increase his side's chances of securing victory in the competition.
Arsenal are determined to avoid a shock defeat when they host Sporting Lisbon for the second leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie. With five points separating them and second-placed Manchester City in the Premier League, Arsenal would love nothing more than to lift a European trophy for the first time since 2004.
They appeared on course to do so early on as Granit Xhaka scored his fifth goal of the season after Gabriel Martinelli's shot was saved by Antonio Adan. It marked his best-ever total for Arsenal and secured him a place as one of their all-time leading scorers in Europa League competition.
Arsenal were stunned in dramatic fashion as Pedro Goncalves forced extra time with an incredible strike from 46 yards that Aaron Ramsdale scrambled into his own net. It will remain etched in all Arsenal fans' memories for evermore.
In the 63rd minute, Arsenal came close to equalising when Leandro Trossard's effort was deflected onto the post by Adan and Gabriel saw his header cleared off the line. Both sides had chances to win but drama ensued until Manuel Ugarte was sent off for his second bookable offence in 118th minute.
Sporting had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds of regulation play, but were denied by Ousmane Diomande's goal line block. Ultimately, penalties were needed and Sporting prevailed after Nuno Santos tapped in his spot kick for an easy quarter-final advance.
This season, Porto have been on an impressive run of form, scoring in each of their last six games and keeping seven clean sheets along the way. Ex-Tottenham forward Marcus Edwards has been one of the standouts in their midfield; he's scored five times in his debut season at the club after previously hitting double figures for Tottenham.
Arsenal suffered a 4-0 loss in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague. They must now win the second leg tie next Thursday to advance and hopefully secure their first European trophy since 2016-17.
This week's biggest story: Arsenal players led by Lacazette took a knee in protest of racism before kick-off against Slavia Prague. Their act was powerful and hopefully it will inspire other clubs to do the same in the future.
Alexandre Lacazette had an excellent start to the game, showing excellent control of the ball and creating chances for teammates. He then had a great opportunity to score when Bukayo Saka won possession in midfield but curled it wide of the post. It was an encouraging start for Arsenal.
Emile Smith Rowe provided great support for Pepe as he pushed two Slavia defenders aside and passed it to him for his goal. Pepe also kept the ball alive, beating two men before nutmegging another, in what proved to be an outstanding performance for Arsenal.
However, his shot just missed the mark after the break and Slavia remained strong in their defense to make it difficult for anyone else to break through. Their goalkeeper had to step in again when Lukas Provod's sharp effort forced a save from him in the 20th minute.
But it was the visitors who took the lead, with Nicolas Pepe beating Ondrej Kolar at the near post from close range after Emile Smith Rowe had deflected off two defenders and drawn a foul in the box.
Slavia Prague have been one of the biggest surprises of this season's Europa League, having eliminated Leicester City and Rangers from competition. Unbeaten in 21 matches, Slavia Prague have a great chance to reach the final four; however they must avoid the controversy surrounding racism row that has overshadowed their progress so far.
Tomas Holes' late goal proved a huge setback for Mikel Arteta's side as they struggled to find their rhythm again and Slavia Prague held on for an impressive 1-0 victory. A win in the return leg is essential to guarantee a place in the semi-finals, though whether Arteta can motivate his squad under similar conditions remains to be seen.
Manchester United have again secured their place in the Europa League semi-finals with a convincing win over Granada. Edinson Cavani scored twice, giving United an early 2-0 lead and giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side an impressive 4-0 aggregate advantage. Jesus Vallejo added an own goal late on for added damage, but United's performance was as assured as it was convincing.
Granada had numerous chances, but their efforts were mostly wasted - the best coming from substitute Jorge Molina's header straight at David de Gea. At that point in the game, United were clearly ahead and should have won by more than one goal after Bruno Fernandes' first-time volley from Nemanja Matic's lofted pass and Mason Greenwood's low shot.
But Manchester United were able to maintain their lead thanks to an inspiring performance from Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who showed both sides of his game to frustrate Granada and give United an attacking outlet.
The hosts had to work hard in the early going, but eventually created an opening when Donny van de Beek picked out Greenwood who was given plenty of space but could only direct his tame header past Rui Silva's goal. Just moments later Kenedy had another chance for Granada with Kenedy allowed to tee up Roberto Soldado but his effort lacked any real quality and De Gea easily caught it.
Two minutes later, Montoro's free-kick from deep inside United's half looped around and deflected to a defender. It appeared headed for the top corner but De Gea made one of his many saves of the season so far and United held on for victory.
United made a slow start, but as they increased pressure on Granada they were eventually rewarded in the 57th minute when Brice brought down Fernandes in the area and earned themselves a penalty kick that was saved by De Gea.
Manchester United will look to extend their impressive run in the UEFA Europa League when they take on Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday. Going into this match knowing a victory could guarantee them a place in the last eight, Manchester United also faces off with Shakhtar Donetsk and Atalanta for second spot in Group C; therefore, they need to stay focused to secure victory here.
Dinamo Zagreb have made an impressive start to their campaign, winning their first three matches and taking a commanding lead in Croatian top flight competition. Unfortunately, they have suffered some setbacks recently and must be wary not to lose this match as they look to make progress in their development plan.
They are in a precarious situation on the road and need to pick up some vital points to stay ahead of their rivals, especially after winning their last two matches against teams from Europe (including beating Tottenham last round). This will be a tough test for an underperforming side but a win could well send them on their way towards another European quarter final, giving Nenad Bjelica his first ever chance to take charge of such an important tie at this level.
The team is in good shape, with players such as Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling expected to have their best games yet. To allow these four attacking stars room to operate effectively, Gabriel Jesus may need regular access on the right flank.
Defense wise, the side is in a strong position as they have been successful at defending in recent times and will aim to continue this form against Croatia. The back four must remain solid with an experienced central defensive unit allowing midfield players to advance when desired.
This will be the first time these teams have met, providing a unique chance to assess how they stack up against one another. It also serves as an important test for Chelsea as they look to bounce back from their defeat to Brighton at the weekend and manager Graham Potter can use this game as an opportunity to rotate his squad ahead of their trip to Stamford Bridge.