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Arsenal held by Sporting in Europe but progress as Welbeck suffers serious-looking injury

The Gunners were held to a 0-0 draw by Sporting Lisbon at the Emirates.

Welbeck is comforted by Nani.
Welbeck is comforted by Nani.
Image: Nick Potts

ARSENAL BOOKED THEIR place in the Europa League knockout stages after a 0-0 draw with 10-man Sporting CP that was marred by an injury to Danny Welbeck.

The point – combined with Vorskla losing 1-0 to Qarabag – was enough to ensure a top-two place for the Gunners in Group E, but the performance left much to be desired.

A lack of fire power meant the few openings the Gunners were able to create went begging, while Sporting – who had Jeremy Mathieu sent off late on - offered even less in the final third.

With Arsenal progressing despite a disappointing display, Welbeck’s injury will be the main concern for Unai Emery and Gareth Southgate, who named the 27-year-old in his England squad earlier on Thursday.

Chances were at a premium in an opening 45 minutes dominated by Arsenal, the Gunners unable to turn their 69 per cent possession into clear-cut chances.

It was a half soured by the nasty-looking injury to Welbeck, the forward having landed awkwardly on his right ankle after meeting Stephan Lichtsteiner’s right-wing cross.

After receiving oxygen and medical attention on the pitch, Welbeck left the field on a stretcher, with Arsenal waiting to learn the full extent of his injury.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – the man who replaced Welbeck – went close straight after the restart, but the striker was unable to guide Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross on target.

There was little to get the pulses racing after that 46th-minute effort until Mkhitaryan’s weak shot with 10 to play, Renan Ribeiro getting down easily to claim.

Mathieu’s dismissal for a mistimed last-ditch tackle on Aubameyang offered Arsenal the chance to seal a dramatic late victory, but the substitute blazed over the crossbar in an effort befitting this lacklustre spectacle.

Europa League results:

Group A

  • Ludogorets 0-0 AEK Larnaca
  • Leverkusen 1-0 Zurich

Group B

  • Celtic 2-1 Leipzig
  • Rosenborg 2-5 Salzburg 

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Group C 

  • Slavia Praha 0-0 Kobenhavn 
  • Bordeaux 1-1 Zenit 

Group D 

  • Dinamo Zagreb 3-1 Spartak Trnava
  • Fenerbace 2-0 Anderlecht

Group E 

  • Arsenal 0-0 Sporting CP 
  • Vorskla 0-1 Qarabag

Group F 

  • Olympiacos 5-1 Dudelange
  • Betis 1-1 AC Milan 

Group G 

  • Rapid Wien 0-0 Villareal 
  • Spartak Moskva 4-3 Rangers 

Group H 

  • Apollon 2-3 Frankfurt
  • Lazio 2-1 Marseille 

Group I 

  • Genk 1-1 Besiktas
  • Malmo 1-1 Sarpsborg

Group J 

  • Akhisar 2-3 Sevilla 
  • Krasnodar 2-1 Standard Liege 

Group K 

  • Dynamo Kyiv 3-1 Rennes
  • Astana 2-1 Jablonec

Group L 

  • Vidi 1- PAOK 
  • BATE 0-1 Chelsea 

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