Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has admitted that a 2-2 result against Sporting CP in the Europa League was in hindsight, a fair result.
The Swiss midfielder played his part to ensure the Gunners left Portugal without defeat, after his shot deflected into the net off Hidemasa Morita to see the visitors level, having seen the game turn on its head following the opening goal from William Saliba.
However, while he admitted a better performance might have ensured Arsenal took a lead back to Emirates Stadium, the aim before the game was to ensure the Gunners stayed in the tie and in the end, it was mission accomplished.
“We spoke before the game that we have to be smart,” he said to Arsenal media in an interview post-match.
“We knew that we had two games and at this level, in this competition, we have to be smart, because if you come open straight away you can lose 3-1 or 4-1 here and it’s much more difficult to overturn.
“I think that we can win and lose this game today as well, so I think the draw is OK for both sides, now let’s see what happens in the second game.”
Reflecting on the game, he added: “You go 1-0 up and afterwards, you concede two easy goals and at this level, it can’t happen. We came back to 2-2, we take the 2-2 back to London and try to finish the game there.
“They’re a good team, they have good footballers as well. We saw they had a lot of discipline at the back, but we can do much better than today. We have two legs of games to play, we take the 2-2 back to London and try to finish it there.
“The support this season has been unbelievable and we want to give them something back for this season as well, so we’ll try our best.”
Gunners’ manager Mikel Arteta saw it from a quite different approach but also admitted that his team could have done much better in Portugal.
Speaking post-match, he said: “We had periods in the game where we were in a lot of control, but we lacked a little bit of strength in the final third because obviously we had to adjust today with the players we did not have available.
“I think we conceded two very poor goals that we have to do better on and show much more determination to defend our box in those moments.
“At that level away from home, it puts the tie in a really difficult position but we managed to react. We had periods in the second half where we were much better.”