Danny Welbeck struck the winner as Arsenal beat Sporting Lisbon 1-0 in Europa League Group E, their 11th straight victory under Unai Emery.
After a quiet first half, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang forced two good saves out of Ruben Ribeiro while one-on-one, before Welbeck saw a header ruled out for a soft push.
Welbeck got his goal late on (78), however, striking through Ribeiro after former Liverpool and Sunderland defender Sebastian Coates’ mistake.
Sporting: Ribeiro (6), Ristovski (5), Andre Pinto (6), Coates (4), Acuna (7), Battaglia (6), Petrovic (6), Gudelj (6), Nani (6), Montero (5), Bruno Fernandes (5).
Subs: Gaspar (5), Cabral (5), Diaby (NA)
Arsenal: Leno (6), Lichtsteiner (6), Sokratis (7), Holding (8), Xhaka (6), Guendouzi (7), Elneny (7), Ramsey (6), Mkhitaryan (6), Welbeck (7), Aubameyang (7)
Subs: Torreira (6), Lacazette (NA), Iwobi (NA)
Man of the match: Rob Holding
The result means Arsenal are in pole position in Group E after three straight wins, and are close to securing a knockout spot with three games remaining.
In a first half lacking in clear-cut opportunities, Henrikh Mkhitaryan forced a decent save out of Ribeiro from an angled free-kick, while former Manchester United winger Nani struck narrowly over from long range.
Arsenal came out with more intent in the second half; Aubameyang forced Ribeiro into a good save from the right angle of the box, before the Brazilian goalkeeper got a fine left hand to the Gabon striker’s shot from 10 yards while one-on-one.
Welbeck was then penalised for a push on Gaspar as he headed a beauty into the far corner from Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross, though the foul looked harsh.
Unai Emery made five changes after beating Leicester 3-1 in the Premier League.
Out went Bellerin, Torreira, Ozil, Iwobi and Lacazette, replaced by Guendouzi, Elneny, Ramsey, Welbeck and Aubameyang.
But Welbeck got the goal his hard work deserved with 12 minutes remaining, striking low from 15 yards through Ribeiro after Coates had slipped as the last line of defence.
Arsenal saw out the last period with professionalism, earning their first-ever win in Portugal, and handing Sporting only their second home defeat in two years.
- Arsenal recorded their 11th successive win in all competitions; their best run of wins since October 2007 (12 in a row).
- This was Arsenal’s first-ever away win in Portugal after previously failing to come away victorious in six European visits there (D3 L3).
- 23 of Arsenal’s 33 goals in all competitions this season have come in the second half of matches (70 per cent).
- Arsenal have won 11 competitive matches this season – of all Premier League clubs, only Manchester City can equal this tally (also 11).
Man of the match – Rob Holding
Next to Sokratis, Holding seemed to come of age in Lisbon on Thursday night, putting in a monster performance to completely snuff out any Sporting threat.
The 23-year-old has started six games in a row under Emery, looks comfortable on the ball, and is among the most improved this season.
Arsenal now go to Crystal Palace on Super Sunday at 1.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League. They host Sporting Lisbon at the Emirates on November 8.
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