David Raya vindicates bold Arsenal transfer decision as penalty heroics win over fans

David Raya vindicates bold Arsenal transfer decision as penalty heroics win over fans

For the first time since 2010, Arsenal are into the quarter-finals of the Champions League - and you could almost hear the relief at the full-time whistle.

This was a cagey affair, one of few chances, and in the end it came as no surprise that penalties had to decide it.

Arsenal were the victors there, winning 4-2, and for Mikel Arteta, this will go down as one of his biggest wins.

The game felt on a knife edge all night, with both Arteta and Porto boss Sergio Conceicao booked.

At the full-time whistle, they became heated as they exchanged angry words and it typified a tie that was full of aggro.

Arsenal will be glad to see the back of Porto and now they can look forward to a first Champions League quarter-final in 14 years.

David Raya proves Arsenal’s hero

After a shaky start to life at Arsenal, this was the night that Raya proved his worth.

The goalkeeper was Arsenal’s hero during the penalty shootout, saving two spot-kicks to send the Gunners through to the quarter-finals.

They were excellent saves too, with the Spaniard diving at full stretch to his left to keep out Galeno, who downed Arsenal in the first leg.

The signing of Raya in the summer by Arsenal was a bold call by Arteta, given how well Aaron Ramsdale had performed since he joined in 2021.

It has taken time for Raya to win over supporters, but this is surely the moment that cements his status as a fan favourite and vindicates Arteta.

Odegaard rises to the occasion

In a game as tight and cagey as this, it came as no surprise that Martin Odegaard was the man to open Porto up.

The Gunners struggled to break down Porto all night and the visitors deserve credit for their disciplined organisation.

When they were finally carved open before the break, it was Odegaard’s magic feet that did it.

The Norwegian picked up the ball outside the box and, after sending the Porto defence one way, then the other, he found Leandro Trossard with a perfectly-weighted pass.

The Belgian did the rest and finished well, but it was Odegaard’s creativity that gave him the chance to have his moment.

Arsenal’s captain stepped up to the plate when his side needed him most and he thought he scored a winner in normal time, only for the referee to chalk it off following a foul by Kai Havertz in the build-up.

Kiwior repays Arteta’s faith

During Arsenal’s recent winning run, Jakub Kiwior has been one of the surprise packages.

Due to injuries to Oleksandr Zinchenko and Takehiro Tomiyasu, the Poland international has been parachuted into the team at left-back.

Tomiyasu and Zinchenko are both back fit now, though, and as such it was expected Kiwior could lose his place for a game of this magnitude.

Arteta, however, stuck by the 24-year-old and handed him a seventh start in a row.

The Arsenal manager’s faith was repaid by Kiwior, who put in arguably his best performance since joining the Gunners in January last year.

He dealt well with Porto winger Francisco Conceicao and in possession he was calm too, perhaps even more so than Arsenal’s two centre-backs.

Kiwior has found minutes hard to come by since moving to Arsenal, but against Porto he showed that he won’t give up his spot without a fight.