Champions League: cold shower for Arsenal beaten to the wire by Porto

FC Porto, resistant in defense and sharp in attack, clipped the wings of Arsenal (1-0) with a superb goal from Galeno in added time, Wednesday in the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League. The Portuguese club led by veteran Pepe gave a great lesson in humility and efficiency to Mikel Arteta's team which, despite its lack of experience in the Champions League, was already starting to talk about Wembley, host of the final.

The Arsenal players were beaten to the wire by FC Porto in the round of 16 first leg. Action Images via Reuters - PETER CZIBORRA

By: RFI Follow


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The English club, with its youngsters Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka as standard bearers, will have to do more, and better, on March 12 at its Emirates in north London to reach the quarter-finals, fourteen years after the last ones played. The "Gunners", however, arrived at the Stadio do Dragao escorted by five consecutive victories, with 21 goals scored by an all-out attack, and therefore confidence at the zenith.

But the gap in level which separates certain Premier League clubs, such as the latest victims West Ham (6-0) and Burnley (5-0), and a club like FC Porto, accustomed to continental games, has revealed itself pretty big Wednesday.

Galeno, clinic

The third in the Portuguese championship also has a formidable weapon with Galeno, his 26-year-old Brazilian left winger, author of a magnificent curling shot from outside the area at the end of added time (90th + 4).

At the start of the match, it was he who had already slipped in front of William Saliba, too wait-and-see, to send a ball onto the post of David Raya, already overtaken (21st). Galeno thrives when the Champions League music hits. They now have five goals and three assists in this 2023-2024 edition. In the opposite camp, neither Bukayo Saka nor Gabriel Martinelli produced their usual sparks on the sides. And Kai Havertz, employed as a center forward, did not give much more cold sweat to the Portuguese rearguard.

This setback at the last minute brings back painful memories for Arsenal supporters. In its last seven appearances in the Champions League, the London team has been eliminated at the round of 16 stage each time.

History can also be a source of hope. The last time Arsenal reached the quarter-finals, in 2010, it was at the expense of FC Porto. Arsène Wenger's "Gunners" took on water on the way out (2-1 defeat), before marching on the Portuguese on the return to London (5-0).


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