Arsenal end horror Champions League record as Martin Odegaard stars in Porto win


Arsenal secured a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in 14 years with a penalty shootout victory over Porto on Tuesday night. David Raya saved two of the Portuguese side's four spot-kicks. Here are five things Express Sport took away from the game at the Emirates Stadium...

Arsenal end nightmare Champions League run

Even before their six-year absence from the Champions League, Arsenal struggled to get beyond the last-16 of the competition. The Gunners had not reached the quarter-final since 2009-10 and, before this tie, they had lost in each of their last seven attempts at this stage of the tournament.

It is not only exclusive to the Champions League, either - it was Portuguese opposition in Sporting Lisbon who inflicted defeat in the last-16 of the Europa League a year ago, incidentally thanks to a penalty shootout. That record was a ghost that Arsenal were keen to exorcise.

It was a below-par performance against a feisty Porto and it required penalties to scrape beyond the Primeira Liga outfit. Raya's two saves put Arsenal through. 

Odegaard drags Arsenal into last eight

Porto startled Arsenal by adopting an aggressive pressing system that meant the hosts never truly settled.

Naturally, it was captain Martin Odegaard who eventually took control towards the end of the first half. The Norwegian had already come close to putting Bukayo Saka through on several occasions before he teed up Leandro Trossard with a clever angled pass.

Trossard finished low across goalkeeper Diogo Costa to give Arsenal the lead. The Gunners had their leader to thank for finally taking the game by the collar. It was Odegaard’s constant pressing, movement and quality in possession that turned the momentum of the tie, even though Arsenal couldn't find a winner in 120 minutes.

His first spot-kick laid the foundation for a brilliant shootout performance from his team.

Raya justifies Arteta decision

There was plenty of scrutiny on Mikel Arteta's decision to replace the popular Aaron Ramsdale with Raya. Arteta has insisted that he has two No. 1 goalkeepers but clearly prefers the Spaniard, even backing him through a series of errors earlier in the season. 

The Arsenal boss might even have fought off the urge to put Ramsdale on for the penalty shootout, knowing that the England international has a positive record facing spot-kicks. Raya's two saves justified Arteta's faith. 

Kiwior continues to win Zinchenko battle

With Oleksandr Zinchenko returning for the final 11 minutes of Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Brentford at the weekend, there was plenty of anticipation over who would start at left-back against Porto.

Kiwior, who has impressed in recent months, retained his place in the starting 11 and proved why he will likely start ahead of Zinchenko for the season’s run-in. The Poland international, who was signed from Spezia in January 2022, is a better defender than his Ukrainian team-mate and is just as adept in possession.

The 24-year-old looked comfortable when stepping forward with the ball and his positioning allows those in front of him to attack with freedom. Zinchenko was brought on in the second half of extra-time and was immediately targeted by Porto with long passes into his channel, proving that Kiwior is the safer bet for Arteta.

Pepe’s performance placed into context 

Key to Porto’s battling, tactically-astute performance was the veteran Pepe. The former Real Madrid defender marshalled Kai Havertz superbly at the Emirates Stadium, was excellent in possession, and was constantly bellowing instructions at his colleagues.

It is remarkable that the 41-year-old performed so consistently across both legs. He played for Porto in a 2-0 defeat against Arsenal 17 years ago and is only 11 months younger than the long-serving Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

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