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Raya helps Arsenal beat Porto on penalties to reach Champions League quarter-finals

LONDON (AP) — Arsenal's 14-year wait for a place in the Champions League quarterfinals is over, thanks in large part to David Raya's penalty saves.

Raya tipped a spot-kick from Porto's Wendell against the post, then pushed away another from Galeno to secure a 4-2 victory in Tuesday's penalty shootout at the Emirates Stadium.

It ends a long losing streak in the round of 16 for Arsenal, who had been eliminated at this stage in their last seven appearances in the competition but won 1-0 to level the aggregate score at 1-1 .

And it was a huge moment for Raya, who was brought in last summer to replace Aaron Ramsdale as Arsenal's No.1 – a decision which has been frequently questioned by the club's supporters this season.

“Obviously it's a great feeling for me personally, for the first time in the Champions League and for the club to get to the quarter-finals for the first time in so many years,” Raya said. “We have worked a lot on penalties this year and all the hard work with the goalkeeping coach and the team has paid off.”

It was the first penalty shootout in the Champions League since the 2016 final won by Real Madrid against Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona also reached the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Napoli in Tuesday's other match to advance 4-2 on aggregate.

Arsenal trailed 1-0 from the first leg in Portugal – when Galeno scored the winner in stoppage time – but equalized through Leandro Trossard's goal in the 41st minute. Neither team could find another goal despite going into extra time, as Porto's disciplined defensive tactics largely kept Arsenal at bay.

Arsenal suffered seven consecutive round of 16 defeats under Arsene Wenger from 2011 to 2017, the last time the London club played in the competition. Porto last reached the quarter-finals in 2021, but have not progressed beyond that stage since winning the title in 2004 under Jose Mourinho.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta now has a chance to do what Wenger never could: win Europe's biggest trophy.

“So happy. It's been 14 years, which is a long time for a club like Arsenal and it shows how difficult it's been,” said Arteta, whose side are also top of the Premier League. “He has We really had to dig deep to find the magical moment at the end. We started to create incredible energy in the stadium, we were all pushing for it and together we achieved it.

Porto had secured victory with a last-minute long-range strike at home and did their best to protect that advantage with a combination of strong defense and a variety of time-wasting techniques.

But the hosts had a few chances in the first half, with striker Evanilson shooting narrowly wide from outside the box in the 16th after Arsenal had given the ball away, then drawing a good save from Raya from the center of the area in the 22nd. .

Arsenal's sustained pressure finally paid off when Trossard scored with a low shot inside the far post after being teed up in the box by Martin Odegaard. The shot went through the legs of veteran defender Pepe, who, at 41, is the oldest outfield player to play a Champions League match and the same age as Arteta.

Arsenal were denied a second goal in the second half when Odegaard put the ball into an empty net, but Kai Havertz was adjudged to have fouled goalkeeper Diogo Costa moments before.

Gabriel Jesus almost scored just after coming on in the 83rd minute with a shot that almost slipped through Costa's legs but deflected for a corner.

Odegaard had a great chance moments later after Bukayo Saka burst forward and made a save from Costa, the rebound landing at the Norwegian midfielder's feet, but he shot wide with the net gaping.

Porto substitute Mehdi Taremi had the first chance in extra time when he burst into the box in the 101st, but curled his shot wide of the far post. Saka then saw a shot blocked at the last moment in the 110th after being spotted by substitute Eddie Nketiah in the box.

Odegaard, Havertz, Saka and Declan Rice all scored for Arsenal in the penalty shootout, setting up Raya's decisive save when he dived to his left to deny Galeno.


AP Football:

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