Arsenal 0-0 Sporting Lisbon: Distressing injury to Danny Welbeck marrs Europa League clash
- Credit: Picture: MARTYN HAWORTH
Arsenal hosted Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League at the Emirates on Thursday evening. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report.
Arsenal drew 0-0 against Sporting Lisbon in a scrappy match that will only be remembered for a serious injury to Danny Welbeck.
The 27-year-old required oxygen after falling badly on his ankle in the 25th minute.
Such was the distressing scene a number of his team-mates had to look away before the popular striker was carried off to applause from the whole of the shocked Emirates.
Arsenal head coach Unai Emery challenged his side to beat Lisbon in order to qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League as Group E winners.
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Prior to kick-off the North Londoners had won all three of their games in this competition and would seal top spot with two games to spare with a home triumph.
Sokratis started the match– as the Islington Gazette revealed three hours before the game after speaking with a well-placed source.
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Petr Cech also played, along with starlet Emile Smith Rowe as did Carl Jenkinson.
Sporting arrived in N5 in a state of disarray despite sitting second having garnered six points from their three matches.
The verde e brancos might be third in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, but they sacked boss Jose Peseiro last week after they lost 2-1 at home to second-tier side Estoril in the League Cup, with Dutchman Marcel Keizer, a former Ajax manager, set to replace him.
The move to replace the manager was precipitated by Danny Welbeck’s winner in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Sporting in Portugal two weeks ago at a raucous Estadio Jose Alvalade.
Welbeck, who had netted more Europa League goals than any other Gunner over the course of the last two seasons, was dubbed the ‘Welbeck Express’ after his clinical strike in the Portuguese capital.
Another Arsenal win would take them to 12 points to mean Lisbon would not overtake them - even if the Emery’s side lost their last two group games thanks to their better head-to-head record.
The home side started positively enough with Matteo Guendouzi getting in behind the visitors backline to send a low ball in, but Welbeck’s flick was hacked off the line.
However, the former Manchester United striker – dubbed by the Portuguese sportspages the ‘Welbeck Express’ such was his all-round powerful display in Lisbon 14 days previously – suffered what looked to be a serious injury in the 25th minute.
Stephan Lichtsteiner played the ball into the 27-year-old in a crowded box. Welbeck fired the ball on target but keeper Reman Ribeiro was equal to the task which led to the Longsight-born attacker remain down, before eventually being carried off to be replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after a lengthy stoppage.
The attacker required an oxygen mask as he was treated on the pitch, with a leg brace also in place after landing awkwardly on his ankle while trying to attack a header from his Swiss colleagues’ centre.
As the Lithuanian referee Ged Mazelka blew for half-time following a period of shapeless, scrappy play the only thing one could really say about the opening 45 minutes was to wish the popular ‘Welbz’ well.
The second half continued in the same vein as the home side attempted to make inroads into the Lisbon backline but Arsenal simply couldn’t break down their resolute visitors who had Mathieu sent off late on for cynically hacking down Aubameyang.