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Match Report

Arsenal vs Sporting

Based on both sides’ performances in the Series to date, most were sure that this match would be the final rather than the third place play off. Complacency and some defensive misfortune brought these two teams together a day early. With the Final out of reach, both opted to give the full squad some match experience. Arsenal rested star forward Serge Ganabry and defender Angha, whilst Sporting lost Fokobo to a first-team call up and striker Farley Rosa was on the bench along with Arsenal's Kyle Ebecillio.

In a fast paced opening the teams looked to be well matched and the majority of the first fifteen minutes was contested in the middle of the pitch. Sporting dealt better with the condition of the pitch than the red army and link up play from Esgaio and Manafa looked threatening. Rubio came closest to opening the scoring though shot narrowly wide..

Both teams soon began to play fluid football and chances slowly opened up. It took a defensive error in the 27th minute for Arsenal to capitalise and open their account. Riquichos' weak back pass left Eisfield one on one with the keeper. The Arsenal attacker kept his cool and calmly curled the ball round the keeper to put the Gunners up 1-0. 

The game came to life after the opening goal and Sporting applied heavy pressure on Arsenal and even with some solid defending, the pressure proved too great. A skilful three touch pass to Manafa on the 34th minute put Sporting level after he smashed a low shot into the right corner.

The Portuguese side started the second half where they left off. Two early corners provided Palhinha with an open header which the keeper fumbled but cleared; moments later some good passing by Rubio put Mallman in a great position for another shot which should have put Sporting ahead but instead went inches wide.

Quick play from a throw in took Arsenal by surprise and forced Mugabo to foul Stojanovic in the box for a penalty. Semedo stepped up and powered it past the keeper to put Sporting 2-1 up in the 55th minute.

Iliev had a spell of work as Sporting took two quick shots in succession; it should have been a third for the Portuguese side but both were well saved. The game quickly turned into a one sided match as the pressure from Sporting became too much for Arsenal. Shots by Rubio and Mallmann forced keeper Iliev to make one difficult save after another.  

A free kick for Arsenal gave Eisfeld a chance to level the match but grazed the woodwork on the wrong side of the post. Sporting counter-attacked quickly as Arsenal were too slow to regroup.  Hayden fumbled the ball under pressure which gave Rubio the run through to the box, setting up Esagio who sealed the deal on his second attempt, giving a 3-1 advantage to Sporting with 18 minutes left to play.

The Gunners fought back well to try and push the match to extra time, but all efforts were dealt with by the seemingly impenetrable Portuguese defence. In the end Sporting Clube de Portugal were too strong for the English side. It was a valiant effort from Arsenal who have to thank their keeper for keeping the score line as low as it was in the end.

vsSporting Lisbon FC
ArsenalSporting Clube de Portugal

Eisfield 27'

Manafa 34'

Semedo 55'

Esgaio 72'

Venue: Giuseppe Sinigaglia Date: 31 Mar 2013, 14.30 LOCAL time


Line up: Iliev, Bellerin, Ormond-Ottewill, Yennaris, Hajrovic, Hayden, Ansah, Mugambo, Akpom, Eisfeld, Maitland-Niles

Subs: Kristoffer Olsson, Vickers, Jebb, Ebecillio, Iwobi

Coach: Terry Burton


Sporting Clube de Portugal:

Line up: Meira, Riquicho, Semedo, Figueiredo, Pinto, Palhinha, Esgaio, Stojanovic, Rubio, Mallmann, Manafá

Subs: Oliveira, Ribeiro, Martins, Edelino, Rosa, Podence, Guedes

Coach: Abel Ferreira