Arsenal 0-0 Sporting Lisbon
Arsenal have qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League despite being held to a 0-0 draw against ten-man Sporting Lisbon.
Gunners boss Unai Emery made nine changes to the side which drew with Liverpool in the Premier League with Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey both in the starting XI, while former Manchester United star Nani was a familiar face in the Sporting line-up at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal dominated for the majority of the game, but failed to find a way past the Portuguese outfit, who ended the game with ten men when Jeremy Mathieu was set off late on.
The Gunners were also hit by the loss of Danny Welbeck and Stephen Lichsteiner to injury problems.
However, with Qarabag defeating Vorskla in the other Group E game, it means the Londoners will definitely feature in the round of 32 next year.
Arsenal started strongly and went close in the 12th minute when Welbeck looked to get on the end of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s ball into the area, but former Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates got to it first and diverted the ball over his own crossbar.
The Gunners continued to press and went even closer in the 17th minute when Sporting defender Mathieu touched a Matteo Guendouzi cross towards his own goal and, while keeper Renan Ribeiro got his hand to the ball, it was rolling towards the net until Coates again came to the rescue to hack it off the line.
Welbeck was just off target moments later when he got on the end of Mkhitaryan’s cross but diverted his header just wide.
That proved to be the forward’s final input in the match as he was stretchered off just before the half-hour mark after landing awkwardly when jumping for another header in the box.
Despite the blow of losing Welbeck, Arsenal continued to dominate proceedings, albeit they struggled to find a breakthrough.
Lichsteiner tried his luck from 25 yards but watched his effort drop wide of Ribeiro’s upright on 39 minutes.
Arsenal almost took the lead just a minute into the second half when Mkhitaryan teed up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his strike smashed off the Sporting crossbar.
There was a first chance of note for the visitors two minutes later when Miguel Luis’ cross found its way through to Abdoulaye Diaby, but Carl Jenkinson was hand to get in a vital block to deny him.
Arsenal responded on 54 minutes with Emile Smith-Rowe bursting into the area, before cutting back onto his right foot and hitting a poor effort wide of the goal, while Aubameyang fired just wide minutes later after being set up by Alex Iwobi.
Lichsteiner then hobbled off inside the final 20 minutes with what looked like a hamstring injury, before Coates again denied the Gunners with a block to prevent Aubameyang’s effort finding its way through to the goal on 82 minutes.
Sporting were reduced to ten men three minutes from time when Mathieu was sent off for pulling back Aubmeyang when he was through on goal, but they managed to hold on for a point.