Benfica v Arsenal Live Commentary & Result, 18/02/2021, UEFA Europa League | OkeGoal

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Benfica face Farense away from home next, while Arsenal host Manchester City as both teams return to domestic action before their rematch in Greece.

There goes the full-time whistle! Arsenal are held to a draw by Benfica in Rome despite controlling the game. Aubameyang missed a glorious chance in the first half before Pizzi slotted a penalty home after the break. Saka tapped in from close range to equalise less than three minutes later, but the Gunners were unable to grab a winner in the time that remained. It finishes 1-1 at the Stadio Olimpico!

90′ + 4′ FULL-TIME: BENFICA 1-1 ARSENAL 

90′ + 2′ Since both teams scored in the space of 151 seconds, Benfica and Arsenal have managed just two shots each.

90′ Odegaard is the second player to be replaced, with Willian coming on behind Martinelli.

Mohamed Elneny

Dani Ceballos

90′ Arteta makes a late double-change now, with Ceballos the first man to depart, going off for Elneny in midfield.

87′ Benfica are doing an excellent job of killing the tempo of the game now, passing safely around the back and preventing Arsenal from gaining any momentum.

Chiquinho

Lucas Verissimo

85′ Benfica do make their change now, with the injured Verissimo coming off for Chiquinho.

83′ Benfica look as though they’re about to make a change, but Verissimo appears to be struggling and Jesus changes his mind, deciding to replace the defender instead and delaying the substitution.

81′ Arsenal haven’t created anything of note since their two introductions as Benfica have been keeping the ball well. The Gunners are pressing but haven’t yet forced the Portuguese side into a mistake.

79′ Martinelli is now leading the line in Aubameyang’s place, while Pepe has gone out to his new left-wing position.

77′ Meanwhile, Jesus replaces Taarabt with Pires in midfield as he looks to make his side more compact for the remainder of the game.

77′ The second change sees Aubameyang – who hasn’t had his best game – replaced by Pepe as Arteta adds a second pair of fresh legs to the front line.

77′ Arteta makes a double-change of his own now as he looks to grab a winner in the closing stages of the game. The first alteration sees Smith Rowe depart, with Martinelli taking his place.

75′ CHANCE! Aubameyang is released in behind down the left side of the box and the striker tries to check back onto his right foot before shooting, but Verissimo does just enough to win the ball back and Leite smothers the loose ball!

73′ OVER! Everton runs at the Arsenal defence down the left and cuts inside before lashing a wicked effort towards the top-right corner, but he sends it just over the bar!

71′ Smith Rowe races forward on the left and curls an inviting cross into the middle, but it’s repelled and comes back to the Englishman. He plays it to Tierney, who attempts a cross of his own, but that’s also blocked and goes behind for a corner.

69′ After a frenetic spell following the two goals, the tempo of the game has dipped a little since the substitutions. 

67′ Pizzi, who has just left the field, has scored more goals (7) than any other player in the Europa League this season.

64′ There’s also a change up front for Benfica, with Nunez going off for Seferovic in a like-for-like swap.

64′ Meanwhile, Jesus makes a double-change, bringing Pizzi off for a dynamic winger in Everton as the first alteration.

K. Tierney

Cédric Soares

64′ Arteta makes his first change of the evening, replacing Cedric with Tierney at left-back.

63′ WIDE! Aubameyang makes a run down the right side of the box and fires a shot towards the bottom-left corner across goal, but it fizzes just wide of the post!

62′ SAVE! Rafa jinks past a couple of Arsenal players and goes for the top-left corner with the outside of his boot and connects well with the strike, but Leno gets a hand to it at full stretch and makes the save!

60′ Since the start of last season, Saka (19y 166d) is the youngest Premier League player to have scored 10+ goals and made 10+ assists across all competitions.

58′ There’s a nervous wait for Arsenal as a VAR check is conducted to ascertain if there was an offside in the build-up, but after the delay the referee indicates that the goal stands!

57′ Cedric made a good run into space on the left and played a simple square ball for Saka to convert an easy chance from just a few yards out!

57′ GOAL!! ARSENAL ARE LEVEL!!! The Gunners respond almost immediately as Odegaard slips a lovely ball through for Cedric on the left and the full-back slides it into the middle for Saka, who fires in from close range! It’s 1-1 now!

55′ GOAL!! BENFICA LEAD! Pizzi tucks away the penalty, slotting into the bottom-right corner after a little hop in the run-up! Leno goes the right way, but can’t get a hand to it! It’s 1-0 to Benfica!

54′ PENALTY TO BENFICA! A short corner is worked by Benfica on the right and Smith Rowe tries to block the eventual cross, but his arm is out as he gets in the way of the delivery and the referee points to the spot! The ball struck a combination of chest and arm and the Arsenal players try to protest, but the spot-kick is given!

52′ WIDE! Bellerin surges forward and plays a sharp pass to Ceballos, who has his back to goal just inside the box on the right. The midfielder plays a clever backheel into the path of Saka on the edge, but the youngster drags his shot wide of the near post!

50′ SAVE! Saka throws a couple of stepovers in on the right and jinks onto his left before crossing to the back post where Smith Rowe – in acres of space – can divert it at goal from close range, but Leite makes a stunning save! The flag then goes up for offside, however, as Smith Rowe was a couple of yards behind the last defender.

48′ SAVE! Pizzi receives the ball just inside the Arsenal box on the right and turns neatly before going for the bottom-left corner, but he doesn’t catch it with any power and it’s a comfortable save for Leno.

46′ We’re back underway for the second half!

Rafa Silva

L. Waldschmidt

46′ Jesus makes a change at half-time, introducing Rafa for Waldschmidt in attack.

Arsenal faded as the half wore on and Arteta will be demanding more of the positivity with which they started the game. The Gunners have lacked some composure in the final third as well and haven’t created enough chances with their possession. Benfica, meanwhile, seem content to disrupt Arsenal and wait for an opportunity on the counter-attack and have done a decent job of slowing the game down so far.

There goes the half-time whistle! Arsenal started strongly, dominating the ball in the opening stages, but were unable to put themselves in front, with Aubameyang missing a sitter from close range with only the goalkeeper to beat after Bellerin’s square ball. Xhaka’s loose pass right at the end of the half gave Benfica a golden opportunity to take the lead, but Ceballos got back to block Grimaldo’s cross. It’s 0-0 at the break.

45′ + 1′ HALF-TIME: BENFICA 0-0 ARSENAL

45′ + 1′ CHANCE! Xhaka, with 30 seconds left until the half-time whistle, lofts a bizarre ball from the left-back position towards Bellerin at right-back but underhits it, allowing Grimaldo to latch on and race into the box before crossing, only for Ceballos to block it behind for a corner! 

44′ WIDE! Odegaard lofts a corner to the back post where Gabriel meets it and nods down towards the bottom-right corner, but it’s a fraction wide of the post!

43′ Smith Rowe has stayed down and the medical team are on to help him. He eventually gets to his feet and trudges to the sidelines for further treatment before rejoining the fray.

41′ CHANCE! Odegaard has the ball in the box and manages to wriggle in behind after a quick one-two with David Luiz before squaring to Ceballos, but it’s a fraction behind the Spaniard and his backheel is blocked! The flag then goes up against David Luiz, however.

39′ BLOCK! Arsenal work it sharply down the right and Bellerin crosses towards the near post where Vertonghen slides in to block it, but Smith Rowe is sharply onto the rebound and the defender has to block his follow-up behind for a corner!

37′ Arsenal’s tempo has dropped in the last 10 minutes or so. They’re not moving the ball as quickly as they were and Benfica look comfortable at the moment.

35′ Gabriel tries to send Aubameyang away down the left, but the flag belatedly goes up for offside to deny him. That’s the sixth time an Arsenal player has been flagged up for offside so far.

33′ Benfica have the ball now but it’s all very safe in possession. There’s no real intent or urgency from them at the moment.

31′ SAVE! Nunez is released down the left and he he checks inside before lashing a shot towards the near post. It skips awkwardly just before it reaches Leno and the goalkeeper can’t hold it at the first time of asking, but he manages to smother it before it rolls behind for a corner.

29′ Taarabt plays a poor ball across the pitch and it’s seized upon by Smith Rowe, who surges down the left and looks to take Verissimo on in the box, but his eventual pass into the middle is intercepted and hacked to safety.

27′ SAVE! Arsenal work it well down the right and Saka cuts in onto his left foot just outside the box before curling towards the far corner, but Leite gets his body behind it and makes the save!

25′ Arsenal beat the Benfica press with some quick, one-touch passing and surge forward in numbers, but the ball in behind to Saka is played too late and, once again, the offside flag is raised.

23′ A long ball over the top arrives in the Arsenal box but David Luiz uses his body to shield it from Nunez, allowing Gabriel to sweep in and clear the ball to safety.

21′ Benfica finally enjoy a spell of possession and they work it around in their own half, waiting for the right moment to push forward.

19′ MISS! How are Arsenal not in front?! Bellerin is in acres of space on the right side of the box and he rolls the ball across the face of goal for Aubameyang at the back post, but the striker somehow places his effort wide of the post with his left foot! How did he fail to hit the target from there?

17′ CHANCE! Smith Rowe drops deep to receive the ball and plays it short to Cedric before charging in behind. Cedric pings it over the top and Otamendi fails to make contact with an acrobatic attempt at a clearance, but Leite sprints off his line to head clear!

15′ Benfica are settling into the game and are starting to press higher and condense the centre of the pitch, attempting to slow the game down on the rare occasions they do have the ball.

13′ Waldschmidt is presented with a half-chance just inside the Arsenal box and he snatches at the shot, seeing it take a deflection and spin well wide of the target.

11′ Benfica briefly have the ball, but the Gunners swarm forward to press high and prevent their progression. Xhaka is a little overzealous, however, and concedes a free kick.

9′ Arsenal are looking for incisive passes in behind, but it’s not come off just yet. Saka is caught marginally offside from a David Luiz pass down the right and then Xhaka’s attempted ball is just cut out by Vertonghen.

7′ Arsenal have completely dominated possession in the opening stages, enjoying over 85% of the ball thus far – with plenty of it coming high up the field.

5′ The Gunners have maintained their positive start and have Benfica pinned back. Bellerin drives to the byline and tries to fire a low ball in, but it’s diverted behind by Vertonghen.

3′ Arsenal have started on the front foot but their early adventure has been hampered by the offside flag, raised twice against Aubameyang. Both calls were very tight, but the decisions go Benfica’s way this time.

1′ The referee blows his whistle and gets the game underway!

However, Arsenal have faced four other Portuguese opponents in European competition and beaten them all (Sporting CP, Porto, Sporting Braga and Vitoria Guimaraes).

Benfica and Arsenal met in the last 16 of the 1991/92 European Cup, with Benfica winning 4-2 on aggregate (1-1 home, 3-1 away); these are the only two meetings between the teams.

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta makes no changes to the side he named in the Gunners’ 4-2 victory over Leeds United in the Premier League on Sunday. Midfielder Thomas Partey misses out as he recovers from a thigh injury, but left-back Tierney is fit enough to make the bench.

Benfica boss Jorge Jesus makes three changes to the side that started in their disappointing 1-1 draw with Moreirense last time out. Everton, Rafa and Seferovic all drop to the bench, with Verissimo, Pizzi and Waldschmidt taking their places in what appears to be a shift to a back three.

Arsenal substitutes: Willian, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, Mat Ryan, Calum Chambers, Kieran Tierney, Mohamed Elneny, Gabriel Martinelli, Karl Hein, Eddie Nketiah, Rob Holding, Pablo Mari.

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, David Luiz, Gabriel Magalhaes, Cedric Soares; Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Benfica substitutes: Gabriel Pires, Pedrinho, Haris Seferovic, Everton, Chiquinho, Nuno Tavares, Franco Cervi, Joao Ferreira, Rafa, Odisseas Vlachodimos, Mile Svilar, Gilberto.

Benfica XI (3-5-1-1): Helton Leite; Lucas Verissimo, Nicolas Otamendi, Jan Vertonghen; Diogo Goncalves, Adel Taarabt, Julian Weigl, Pizzi, Alejandro Grimaldo; Gian-Luca Waldschmidt; Darwin Nunez.

Benfica’s failure to win their group – finishing second behind Rangers despite going unbeaten – has resulted in a tough draw for the Portuguese giants against Arsenal, who won all six of their group games. The game is taking place at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome due to coronavirus restrictions, with the second leg to be held in Greece.

Hello and welcome to our LIVE coverage of the Europa League round of 32 first leg clash between Benfica and Arsenal.