Vitoria 1-1 Arsenal: Lacklustre Gunners held to Europa League draw
Arsenal can qualify for the last 32 on Thursday if Eintracht Frankfurt beat Standard Liege in their Group F fixture
Last Updated: 06/11/19 11:32pm
A lacklustre Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Vitoria in the Europa League on Wednesday after Bruno Duarte scored a 91st-minute equaliser.
It was the perfect revenge for Vitoria, who were beaten by a 94th-minute Nicolas Pepe free-kick at the Emirates two weeks ago, as they claimed a deserved point - their first of the current campaign - when Duarte acrobatically found the net.
Arsenal had failed to have an effort on target until the 80th minute when Shkodran Mustafi nodded home from another Nicolas Pepe free-kick to put the visitors ahead, but, until that moment, Unai Emery's side had looked devoid of any attacking intent.
Despite a below-par performance in Portugal, Arsenal remain top of Group F on 10 points and can qualify for the last 32 on Thursday if second-placed Eintracht Frankfurt beat third-placed Standard Liege. Despite the point, Vitoria remain bottom of the group and can no longer qualify for the knockout stages.
How Vitoria came back to bite Arsenal
Vitoria made a strong start at the Estadio D. Alfonso Henriques. Inside eight minutes, Pepe produced a thunderous strike from 25 yards which had Emiliano Martinez stretching, but it crashed onto the post before going wide. The Arsenal goalkeeper then made two wonderful saves, getting a strong hand to Marcus Edwards' effort before pushing away a flicked header from Edmond Tapsoba.
Vitoria: Douglas Jesus (6), Garcia (6), Frederico Venancio (6), Tapsoba (6), Rafa Soares (6), Pepe (7), Agu (6), Evangelista (6), Edwards (8), Duarte (7), Davidson (7).
Subs used: Poha (5), Rochinha (6), Bonatini (n/a).
Arsenal: Martinez (7), Sokratis (6), Holding (5), Mustafi (7), Maitland-Niles (6), Ceballos (6), Willock (6), Tierney (7), N Pepe (6), Martinelli (6), Saka (6).
Subs used: Guendouzi (6), Lacazette (6), Torreira (5).
Man of the match: Marcus Edwards.
Arsenal's only shot of the half came in the 22nd minute. Bukayo Saka got to the by-line before lifting the ball into the area for a waiting Rob Holding, but he could only direct his effort over the bar. Not long after, Vitoria went close again, but Davidson just curled a shot from range past the post.
After a dismal first half, Arsenal were put under pressure early in the second. Former Tottenham youth product Edwards - who scored the first goal at the Emirates two weeks ago - breezed past Dani Ceballos down the right before pulling the ball back into the middle of the area. However, Sokratis was there to make the clearance.
- Unai Emery made eight changes from the weekend’s draw with Wolves. Rob Holding took the captain’s armband with Emi Martinez, Shkodran Mustafi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe also coming in.
- Coach Ivo Vieira made four alterations as Douglas came in for Miguel Silva in goal while Rafa Soares, Lucas Evangelista and Pepe were also recalled.
Just past the hour mark, the Gunners had another sight of goal. Nicolas Pepe whipped a corner into the area, with Mustafi meeting it, but his header just flashed over the crossbar as Arsenal's wait for an effort on target continued.
The game looked to be meandering towards a dull goalless draw until Mustafi popped up with an unexpected Arsenal goal in the 80th minute. It was Nicolas Pepe and his free-kicks to the rescue once again as he floated a delivery towards the back post, with the defender running away from his marker before rising high to head home.
But Vitoria hit back in the first minute of five added on. It was another easy run for Edwards down the right, getting past Holding, before standing the ball up at the far post. Rochinha then headed it back across the area for Duarte, who acrobatically swung the ball goalwards, bouncing it over the head of Mustafi and into the far corner.
Vitoria could well have scored the winner too as they continued to pummel the Arsenal box with just minutes to play, but Mustafi managed to see a shot just wide, while Rochinha's powerful hit just missed the target.
Man of the match - Marcus Edwards
It was another impressive performance from the former Spurs youth player, this time facing his old north London rivals on his own turf. He showed why Mauricio Pochettino once compared him to Lionel Messi with his mazy runs and he caused issues on the right-hand side, especially in the second half.
He had a hand in the equaliser too, getting past an admittedly weak Arsenal defence like they were not there before his cross was nodded back down for Duarte's fine finish. He will have caught a few eyes in Europe over the last two games.
How the manager reacted
Arsenal manager Unai Emery: "I think we worked hard and fought against a team who were very strong defensively, and very organised. They played against us with 100 per cent motivation and also with their supporters.
"Our objective this evening was also to keep a clean sheet because we need to improve defensively and be strong in that moment. We are using each match to achieve that. We didn't do that this evening against Vitoria, but we are going to take that challenge against Leicester.
"In this competition we are taking good results, scoring a lot of goals and not conceding a lot of goals. We use each match to improve and achieve points in each competition.
"We're a little disappointed for the result, but our objective is to be first in the group and we have 10 points and we are first. We are going to play the next two matches to make sure of that position, and now we are going to prepare for Leicester on Saturday."
- Arsenal have won just one of their eight away games against Portuguese opposition in all European competition (D4 L3).
- Arsenal have drawn their last four games in a row in all competitions, despite the Gunners having a lead in each of these matches.
- Eight of Shkodran Mustafi's nine goals in all competitions for Arsenal have been headers.
Arsenal will be back in Premier League action when they travel to Leicester on Saturday evening, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 5.30pm). Their next Europa League outing will be on Thursday November 28 when they host Eintracht Frankfurt.
Vitoria will host Braga in the Portuguese Primeira Liga on Sunday before facing Standard Liege at home in their next Europa League game, also on November 28.