Arsenal beats Porto on penalties to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 14 years

If Arsenal fans had forgotten how tense and grueling the knockout stages of the Champions League can be, their memories will no doubt now have been refreshed after a thrilling 4-2 penalty shootout victory over Porto in the last 16.

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It had been seven years since the Gunners last played at this stage of the European football competition and 14 years since they progressed to the quarter-finals, and there was a real sense of occasion inside the Emirates Stadium as the Champions League anthem in this part of north London.

Porto came in defending a 1-0 lead from the first match, but Leandro Trossard equalized for Arsenal in the first half with a perfect finish after being found by Martin Odegaard's clever reverse pass.

Despite pressure from Arsenal and opportunities for both teams, neither team could find the goal that would have won the tie, and it ended 1-0 on the night after extra time.

Finally, it was the Arsenal players who remained calm to score the four penalties, while the Brazilians Wendell and Galeno had their shots stopped by the outstanding performance of David Raya.

On a rowdy night, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said this was probably the best atmosphere he had experienced at the Emirates Stadium since he took charge in 2019.

"They were incredible," he said of the home fans, describing the night as "magical."

A night to remember

The 3,000 Porto fans who traveled and filled the stadium's famous Clock End section were in full voice more than an hour before kick-off, calming their goalkeepers as they emerged from the tunnel for the pre-match warm-up.

The rest of the team received an even more boisterous welcome when they emerged half an hour later, with 41-year-old eternal captain Pepe leading the applause from the boisterous away support.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had urged Gunners fans to "bring the noise" for the first Champions League home knockout match since 2017, and they duly complied as the teams prepared to take the field, packing the North London sky with a thunderous rendition of the club's anthem, 'North London Forever'.

There is a tangible belief among fans that this Arsenal team can make a big splash in this season's competition, rather than simply being happy to return to Europe's premier tournament, but Tuesday's game will be a stark reminder of what brutal that the Champions League can be.

It was Arsenal, as expected, who got off to the better start, but a poor clearance by defender William Saliba gifted Porto striker Evanilson a chance which he crashed just wide of the far post from outside the area.

It was a reminder of the threat this Porto team possessed, if Arsenal still needed one after Galen's surprise strike in the opener.

But it was a warning that Arsenal evidently did not heed as, just moments later, the defense allowed Evanilson time in the penalty area to control a pass and shoot on goal, with a smart save from Raya keeping the scores level.

Despite Arsenal's early dominance, Porto were gradually rising to the occasion, but with five minutes remaining in the first half, the away team's good work in the first 40 minutes was undone.

Odegaard's sublime pass found Trossard in space inside the area and the Belgian placed the ball unerringly in the back of the net.

The Emirates, which had been seething with noise and anticipation since long before kick-off, finally erupted.

That goal propelled Arsenal forward in the second half, although Porto seemed increasingly content to drop back and absorb the pressure.

The home team finally appeared to have taken the lead in the tie for the first time, as Pepe apparently got his feet tangled while defending a long ball, allowing Odegaard to chip the ball into an empty goal.

However, the goal was disallowed after Kai Havertz was judged for grabbing Pepe's shirt.

Arteta, who seemed to cover as much ground as his players as he wandered around his technical area and gave instructions, was incensed after the decision and received a yellow card for his protests.

"Live, I couldn't understand it, but the referee made the decision, maybe there was something there," Arteta told reporters after the match.

"I'm sure we won't remember that and we'll remember that we did it in our own special way."

Although now

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