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:
- Ludogorets 0-0 AEK Larnaca
- Leverkusen 1-0 Zurich
- Celtic 2-1 Leipzig
- Rosenborg 2-5 Salzburg
- Slavia Praha 0-0 Kobenhavn
- Bordeaux 1-1 Zenit
- Dinamo Zagreb 3-1 Spartak Trnava
- Fenerbace 2-0 Anderlecht
- Arsenal 0-0 Sporting CP
- Vorskla 0-1 Qarabag
- Olympiacos 5-1 Dudelange
- Betis 1-1 AC Milan
- Rapid Wien 0-0 Villareal
- Spartak Moskva 4-3 Rangers
- Apollon 2-3 Frankfurt
- Lazio 2-1 Marseille
- Genk 1-1 Besiktas
- Malmo 1-1 Sarpsborg
- Akhisar 2-3 Sevilla
- Krasnodar 2-1 Standard Liege
- Dynamo Kyiv 3-1 Rennes
- Astana 2-1 Jablonec
- Vidi 1- PAOK
- BATE 0-1 Chelsea
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