Arsenal handed Champions League final omen after Mikel Arteta’s Porto masterstroke

By Staff

Gordon Brown was Prime Minister of the UK, South Africa was about to host the World Cup and Ethan Nwaneri was just three-years-old the last time Arsenal made it to the Champions League round of 16. Back in 2010, they overturned a first leg deficit in Porto with victory at the Emirates Stadium. This time around history repeated itself but in far more dramatic circumstances.

Having fallen behind to Galeno’s 95th minute wonder goal at Estadio do Dragao, Arsenal were able to level up the tie courtesy of a Leandro Trossard strike. Still though, penalties were required on the night, with David Raya proving to be the hero.

The Spaniard may have grabbed the headlines by saving two penalties, but it would have all been for nothing if Arsenal had not converted their own spot-kicks. Martin Odegaard, Kai Havertz, Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka all scored in the shootout. Speaking after the game Arteta revealed this was not a coincidence.

The Spaniard admitted that his side had practiced penalties the day before at the Sobha Realty Centre. Still this was not enough to leave him feeling confident going into the shootout.

“Privately at the training ground a few of them missed by the way yesterday,” he said in his post-match press conference. “Not today. We prepared everything, the extra-time scenario, the changes, how the players have to drink and eat and all that. But in the end you have to do it in the game. To replicate the scenario is really difficult. Total credit for the boys, stepping in with that maturity and that confidence and delivering the way they did.”

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That could prove to be a hugely positive omen for Arsenal. This is because the last five teams to have knocked Porto out of the Champions League in the knockout stages have gone on to reach the final. In fact, Liverpool and Chelsea went on to win the competition after knocking out the Portuguese heavyweights in 2019 and 2021 respectively.

In 2017 meanwhile Juventus reached the final after beating Porto. The same things happened to Liverpool in 2018 and then to Inter Milan in last season’s competition.

The odds are heavily stacked against Arsenal as they seek to keep up this trend. The Gunners have drawn Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals and then will face one of Real Madrid or Manchester City in the semis.

Given how long they have been away from this stage of the competition, it would be very impressive for them to reach the final this time. But with the weird quirk of Champions League history behind them, maybe then can cause something of an upset.

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