Sporting CP 2-2 Arsenal: Gunners earn first-leg draw in four-goal thriller

By Sports Desk March 09, 2023

Arsenal kept their hopes of winning a famous double on track with a fiery 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie at Sporting CP on Thursday.

The Gunners took the lead, went behind and fought back to ensure it ended all square at Estadio Jose Alvalade in a four-goal encounter high on drama.

First-half headers from William Saliba and Goncalo Inacio left the two sides on level terms at the break, before Paulinho's tap-in had pushed Ruben Amorim's men in front.

But a Hidemasa Morita own goal just beyond the hour mark ensured Mikel Arteta's Premier League leaders will head into next week's second leg level with the Portuguese side.

On a humid evening, both teams started in cagey fashion, creating few clear-cut chances amid an atmosphere of simmering tension.

That taut mood increased in the 22nd minute when Saliba rose to power Fabio Vieira's corner home, with an off-the-ball altercation involving Oleksandr Zinchenko then sparking a minor melee.

Sporting refused to be cowed by their concession though, and took just a dozen minutes to strike back in near-identical fashion, with Inacio the man to divert a Marcus Edwards set-piece past Matt Turner.

The hosts then hit the front just 10 minutes after the restart, when Turner parried a Pote attempt straight to Paulinho, who fired home from close range.

Arsenal rose to the occasion once again though, albeit not without controversy after Bukayo Saka was adjudged to have been committed a foul in the build-up to Granit Xhaka's finish ricocheting in off Morita.

That left the tie nicely poised ahead of the return leg at Emirates Stadium next week.

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  • Government stops short of introducing Hillsborough Law in response to report Government stops short of introducing Hillsborough Law in response to report

    The Government has stopped short of introducing a Hillsborough Law called for by campaigners in its response to a report into the experiences of the bereaved families.

    Former bishop of Liverpool the Right Rev James Jones set out 25 learning points in his report The Patronising Disposition of Unaccountable Power, published in November 2017 following inquests into the deaths at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield – where 97 Liverpool FC fans died.

    In a response published on Wednesday, the Government said it had signed up to a Hillsborough Charter, pledging to place the public interest above its own reputation, but said a “Hillsborough Law” incorporating a legal duty of candour was not necessary.

    In the foreword to the report, Home Secretary James Cleverly and Justice Secretary Alex Chalk acknowledged the response had taken “too long, compounding the agony of the Hillsborough families and survivors”.

    They added: “For this we are deeply sorry.”

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The Hillsborough families have suffered multiple injustices and more than 34 years later there can never be too many apologies for what they have been through.

    “And I want to repeat that apology today and thank the Hillsborough families for their tenacity, patience and courage.”

    In his 2017 report, Mr Jones called for the Government to give “full consideration” to a “Hillsborough Law” or Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, which would include a legal duty of candour on public authorities and officials to tell the truth and proactively co-operate with official investigations and inquiries.

    But the response stated the Government was “not aware” of any gaps in legislation or clarifications needed that would further encourage a culture of candour among public servants in law.

    It is understood the Government believes that adopting the duty of candour would risk “creating conflict and confusion” because of the framework of duties and obligations already developed since the disaster.

    In 2021, retired officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster and former force solicitor Peter Metcalf, who were accused of amending statements to minimise the blame on South Yorkshire Police after the tragedy, were acquitted of perverting the course of justice when a judge ruled there was no case to answer.

    Mr Justice William Davis said the amended statements were intended for a public inquiry into safety at sports grounds led by Lord Justice Taylor, but that was not a course of public justice.

    In its report, the Government said the families and survivors were “entirely justified” in their frustration with the evasiveness they experienced from public officials.

    But it said much had changed in terms of expectations and requirements on public officials since 1989.

    It said that “continuing to drive and encourage a culture of candour among public servants” was essential and an important part of the Hillsborough Charter, which Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden had signed on behalf of the Government.

    The charter for families bereaved through public tragedy was proposed by Mr Jones in his report, in which he said “substantial change” was needed in the culture of public bodies.

    Leaders of public bodies who sign up to the charter commit to place the public interest above their own reputations, approach forms of public scrutiny – including public inquiries and inquests – with candour and avoid seeking to defend the indefensible.

    Other organisations which have already signed up to the charter include the National Police Chiefs’ Council, College of Policing, Crown Prosecution Service and Kensington and Chelsea Council, the report said.

    The Government response also states that it will consult on expanding the provision of legal aid for inquests following public disasters.

    Inquests into the deaths at the match, played between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15 1989, concluded in 2016 and found that fans were unlawfully killed and errors by the police and ambulance service caused or contributed to their deaths.

    The match commander on the day, David Duckenfield, was charged with gross negligence manslaughter in 2017 but he was cleared in 2019 at a retrial, after the jury in his first trial was unable to reach a verdict.

  • FSA urges Premier League to ‘make sure supporters rewarded’ by record TV deal FSA urges Premier League to ‘make sure supporters rewarded’ by record TV deal

    Premier League clubs must use their record-breaking television revenues to make matchday attendance more affordable for fans, the Football Supporters’ Association has said.

    The league announced domestic media rights sales worth £6.7billion on Monday for the four seasons starting in 2025-26, with the live rights increasing in value by four per cent within that to £6.406bn compared to the current cycle.

    The league described the deal as “the largest sports media rights deals ever concluded in the UK”.

    That increase in value has been achieved by selling even more games for live coverage – up to 270 of the 380 games per season from 2025-26 compared to 200 a season in the current cycle.

    FSA chair Malcolm Clarke says this will create a “massive headache” for match-going fans and wants top-flight clubs to think creatively about how they can reward the supporters who generate the atmosphere which league bosses acknowledge is one of the competition’s most attractive qualities.

    “The new TV deal will have a huge impact on match-goers with fewer fixtures than ever played on Saturday at 3pm – it’s a massive headache for supporters trying to get to and from games at unsociable hours,” Clarke said in a statement issued to the PA news agency.

    “Broadcasters have almost absolute power in dictating kick-off times, often to the detriment of supporters, and we want to see top-flight clubs and the Premier League doing a lot more for supporters with the money generated.

    “Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says this deal is a testament to players, managers and supporters who create ‘an unrivalled atmosphere every week’ – so let’s make sure supporters are rewarded with affordable football home and away at every club.”

    Premier League clubs voted in June 2022 to maintain the £30 cap on away tickets for the next three seasons, meaning any change in the cap would come into force in the first season of the new domestic TV cycle.

    Clarke also called for “far more equitable distribution” of the Premier League’s income throughout the football pyramid to “protect both the grassroots of the game and our historic football clubs who play such a vital role in our communities”.

    Talks are ongoing between the Premier League, the English Football League and the Football Association about the ‘New Deal For Football’, essentially an agreement on how television revenue should be distributed down the pyramid in the future.

    The deal will also cover new cost control measures as the professional game prepares for the arrival of an independent regulator, plus changes to the domestic calendar to balance the increased demands from international club competitions such as the expanded Champions League and Club World Cup.

    The Premier League’s handling of its latest domestic rights sale has been declared a success by Francois Godard, a senior media and telecoms analyst at Enders Analysis.

    “I think it’s a good deal because prices for rights are flat across Europe, or declining,” Godard told PA.

    “The important thing is to maintain the gap between the money they earn and the money earned by the closest (rival) continentally, Spain’s LaLiga.”

    Godard felt the structure of the deal – spread over four years instead of the traditional three years and with two fewer packages on offer – suited the largest incumbent rights holders Sky Sports, which he feels has a symbiotic relationship with the league.

    “Sky need the Premier League. It’s their best and most valuable content,” Godard added.

    “I see this from a continental point of view. Sky understands that the value of the Premier League depends on how much they pay. If they pay less they will undermine the value at some point.

    “Of course it could have paid three per cent less, OK, but they understand the Premier League needs to secure a higher revenue to deliver this fantastic competition.

    “I say that because I see that, in some continental markets, the incumbent only thinks of saving money, whereas saving money is undermining the value of what you get.”

    Sky Sports secured four of the five packages – the most any single broadcaster was allowed to buy – with TNT securing the fifth which retains their right to broadcast 52 matches a season with the primary kick-off slot of Saturday 12.30pm.

    It is understood that the make-up of the packages, and the difficulty in exploiting a premium, high-volume model within its Prime subscription service, was the reason for Amazon’s decision not to bid.

    It has held the rights to 20 games per season since 2019, and last year secured the UK rights to screen 17 first-pick Champions League matches on a Tuesday night for three seasons from 2024-25.

    Streaming service DAZN had publicly said it would look at the Premier League rights but did not secure any of the packages. DAZN has been contacted for comment.

  • Ex England midfielder Jill Scott added to National Football Museum Hall of Fame Ex England midfielder Jill Scott added to National Football Museum Hall of Fame

    Retired England and Manchester City midfielder Jill Scott has become the latest Lioness to be inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame.

    Scott, 36, hung up her boots last August after making 161 appearances and scoring 27 goals for England, and was part of the Lionesses’ European Championships triumph in 2022.

    At club level, she was a Women’s Super League champion with Manchester City in 2016, also winning three FA Cups.

    Scott said: “It’s such a massive honour. I was here on opening day with Rachel Brown-Finnis at the museum, so to see how much the museum has grown, and then to get inducted into the Hall of Fame and see how far the women’s game has grown, I feel so fortunate that I’ve had the chance to live this journey in women’s football.

    “When I look at some of the names that are in there – Rachel Yankey, Kelly Smith, Karen Carney – they are all fantastic football players, but also fantastic people, so to have my name alongside them is something very special. It’s something I can show the family and hopefully they will be very proud.”

    Scott has donated her England cap from an international friendly against the Czech Republic on the November 12 2019 to the museum, where it is now on display.

    Off the pitch, Scott, who last month was also inducted into the Women’s Super League Hall of Fame, is known for her love of coffee and runs her own coffee shop, Boxx2Boxx Coffee, in Manchester.

    She is also the founder of the Jill Scott Academy, a programme designed to provide opportunities and mentorship for young aspiring footballers, and has been involved in coaching City’s academy players.

    Tim Desmond, CEO of the National Football Museum, added: “Jill Scott’s induction into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame is a momentous occasion.

    “Her career achievements, her profound impression on women’s football, and her remarkable influence on a whole generation of young women make her an exceptional inductee.

    “We’ve seen here first-hand at the museum the impact the Lionesses 2022 European victory has had, and Jill was as big a part of that as anyone.

    “We had an incredible response from visitors to the Crossing The Line: The Story of Women’s Football exhibition, which encapsuled the spirit and ongoing impact of their 2022 Euro win.

    “Jill Scott is more than a footballer; she’s a shining example to young girls on just what can be achieved in football. We are extremely proud to welcome her to our Hall of Fame and celebrate her legacy.”

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