Football news - Arsenal reach last 32, Danny Welbeck suffers 'serious' ankle break
Europa League, Group E, The Emirates – Arsenal 0 Sporting Lisbon 0
Danny Welbeck suffered an ankle break marring an otherwise satisfactory night for Arsenal, who qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery later confirmed the injury was a "serious" broken ankle after the player required oxygen on the pitch before being carried off with his right leg in a brace.
A number of players from both teams were visibly distressed as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang replaced Welbeck on 30 minutes.
"The worst news tonight are these injuries," said Emery. "We think it's a serious injury.
"Every injury is different. He broke something in his ankle and it's a different injury than another."
"Now he's at the hospital and the news is at the moment we are going to wait, but we think this is a serious injury."
Arsenal started well enough, though Sporting, who had come for a point, did everything possible to protect it. But just as the home side were warming up, Welbeck rose to head for goal, landed awkwardly, and departed on a stretcher.
An injured Danny Welbeck of Arsenal is given assistance during the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Arsenal and Sporting CP at Emirates Stadium on November 8, 2018 in London, United KingdomGetty Images
Naturally, his team-mates were haunted by his plight, the half never regained its momentum, and this time Unai Emery's half-time teamtalk could not change the game. Sporting conceded few proper chances in the remaining 45 minutes, Jeremy Mathieu outstanding in the centre of their defence. And on the one occasion that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found a way through, Mathieu was there to hack him down and accept the resultant red card.
So Arsenal have done what they set out to do in the quickest possible time, and if they can maintain their momentum, have as good a chance as anyone of winning the trophy.
How will Arsenal balance their interests? Arsenal are going well in the league, are still in the League Cup and now through to the knockout stages of the Europa League. They're running out of games in which to rest their first-choice players, but at some point, Unai Emery will need to prioritise; does he go after a league place, or try to win something?
Sporting's Portuguese forward Carlos Mane (L) vies with Arsenal's French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi during their UEFA Europa league group stage football match between Arsenal and Sporting Lisbon at the Emirates stadium in London on November 8, 2018.Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jeremy Mathieu (Sporting Clube) Organised and defended superbly, and when he needed to take one for the team, did so. They should be fine without him.
17' - Excellent from Guendouzi, driving to the line and drilling a low cross to the near post, where Welbeck looks to get ahead of Mathieu to flick behind his far leg and into the far corner. But he doesn't quite get the ball, and Mathieu's slide takes it away.
20' - Miguel sticks an arm in Mkhitaryan's face - accidentally, probably - so is penalised with only a free-kick, out on the right. Yerman takes it himself and picks out Welbeck, up early and alone, but he can only glance wide of the far post.
25' - Iwobi sashays into space on the left and cant make anything of it, but Arsenal sustain the attack and Lichsteiner advances down the right, swinging in a cross for Welbeck who, under pressure admittedly, plops a header into Ribeiro's arms.
26' - Oh, absolute sake. Welbeck is down and hurt - he must've landed badly, because he's in all sorts of pain and taking oxygen. That is horrible, because he's had so much ill luck with injury and has so much to offer.
59' - Excellent from Iwobi, arriving onto Ramsey's ball over the top inside the box, right-hand side and, back sort of to goal, he flicks inside for Aubameyang when Gaspar expected him to go outside. Aubameyang's touch is decent, setting him for a shot, but he goes for the near post, not across goal, and ripples the side-netting.
67' - Iwobi finds Kolasinac, who pounds a shot in the manner of a man who wrestles crocodiles, and Ribeiro punches away.
82' - Are Sporting tiring? Kolasinac crosses low and well, into the path of the onrushing Aubameyang, who gets a firm sidefoot on it ... but Coates is alive to the danger and hurls his body into a block. Kolasinac has made a difference since coming on.
87' - Bruno Fernandes plays a poor pass in between centre-back and keeper, and Aubameyang screeches onto it ... so Mathieu, the last man, brings him down! It's possible that Coates would've got over to him, but unlikely, so the game has lost its outstanding player.