Vitoria 1-1 Arsenal: Duarte late strike denies Gunners qualifification


Bruno Duarte

Bruno Duarte injury-time equaliser sealed a 1-1 draw against Arsenal for Vitoria SC on Wednesday and stopped the Gunners from qualifying for the Europa League’s last 32.

Unai Emery’s men appeared set to claim away win that would have guaranteed their place in the knockouts when Shkodran Mustafi headed in Nicolas Pepe’s free-kick 10 minutes into the game.

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However, Duarte’s acrobatic finish denied Unai Emery’s side from claiming a fourth win in as many European games this season and means they must wait a little longer to secure a place in the next round.

It was nearly much worse for Arsenal, who saw Mustafi deflect a cross onto the post before Rochinha rifled a half-volley wide in the closing moments of a rain-soaked encounter in Guimaraes.

Vitoria’s Pepe blasted a shot off the post with eight minutes gone and Emiliano Martinez made a smart one-handed save to deny Marcus Edwards from just outside the box, as the hosts set about trying to test the Arsenal keeper in the wet conditions.

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Martinez was again called into action to parry Edmond Tapsoba’s header away before Rob Holding missed the best of Arsenal’s early chances by nodding over Bukayo Saka’s cross.

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Davidson curled a shot just wide of the right-hand post as Vitoria continued to threaten, with Edwards failing to make the most of a promising run into the box early in the second half.

When Dani Ceballos pulled up with an obvious hamstring injury, the Gunners took a blow, with Matteo Guendouzi coming on to replace him, but the change actually spurred the visitors into taking control of the proceedings, even if they were eluded by chances of scoring.

That was until the 80th minute, when Mustafi rose unmarked to head Nicolas Pepe’s free-kick into the bottom-left corner and celebrated what looked set to be the winner.

However, from six yards out, Duarte snatched an equaliser with a fine bicycle kick and Vitoria was unhappy not to snatch a winner, with Mustafi deflecting the ball on to the right-hand post center before Rochinha’s clever volley missed Martinez’s goal by a few inches.

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The draw puts Arsenal on 10 points at the top of Group F and their place in the knockouts will be confirmed on Thursday if Eintracht Frankfurt beat Standard Liege.

That result would also spell the end of Vitoria’s European campaign, as they have only one point from four matches.

Martinez had a bit of a nightmare in the 5-5 EFL Cup draw with Liverpool in his last outing, but this was a far more assured performance in tricky conditions. His save from Edwards was particularly impressive.

Too often, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, deployed as a right wing-back, allowed Vitoria to make inroads down his flank while offering Nicolas Pepe little assault support.

Arsenal face a tough Premier League trip to Leicester City on Saturday, while Vitoria host Braga in top-flight action on Sunday.



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