Arteta 'always convinced' by Raya after starring for Arsenal in Champions League win

Goalkeeper the hero for the Gunners as two saves in penalty shoot-out leads his team into the quarter-finals

Powered by automated translation

Mikel Arteta said he has always been convinced by David Raya after the goalkeeper silenced his doubters by starring in Arsenal's Champions League last-16 knockout victory over Porto on Tuesday night.

With the tie level at 1-1 on aggregate after extra time at Emirates Stadium, penalties were required to determine who would advance to the quarter-finals. Up stepped Raya, who made two fine saves as Arsenal won the shoot-out 4-2 to progress to the last eight for the first time in 14 years.

The goalkeeper dived full stretch to deny Wendell and repeated the feat against Galeno, while the home side converted all four of their penalties as the decibel count soared.

It is the first time a Champions League match has been decided by penalties since the 2016 final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Raya, on loan from Brentford ahead of a £30 million move at the end of the season, endured an unconvincing start to life at Arsenal, leading many observers to question why a new goalkeeper had been signed when Aaron Ramsdale had largely done well.

However, the Spaniard has become an increasingly assured presence in recent months, before his crowning moment against Porto on Tuesday night.

"I don’t have to see him today, I was very convinced that was going to be the case," Arsenal manager Arteta said when asked if Raya's performance had proved him right in making him his No 1.

"You see in the first few days here and what he had to go through and how he did it with that composure. You look at his body language, and the position that he takes, he doesn’t get very affected and that’s a key quality for a goalkeeper."

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Arteta's Premier League leaders, with 33 goals in their past eight league games, were not at their fluent best against a disciplined Porto side.

Sergio Conceicao's men had succeeded in frustrating the home team for long spells during the opening period, fashioning enough chances of their own to make it a nervy night for the expectant fans.

Both sides struggled to settle in a scrappy opening period, with Porto doing their best to slow the game down by taking their time with throw-ins and goal kicks, to the audible frustration of the home crowd.

The breakthrough finally came in the 41st minute following good work from Martin Odegaard, who jinked past an opponent and fed Leandro Trossard with a perfectly weighted low pass into the box.

Trossard calmly hit a right-footed shot past goalkeeper Diogo Costa and into the far corner of the net to ease the tension.

Both sides had their chances to edge ahead in the tie during the second half, but with neither able to find the back of the net, the match went to extra time and then penalties.

Captains Odegaard and Pepe both stepped up first and dispatched their spot kicks before Kai Havertz scored his to edge Arsenal in front. Wendell's effort was then saved by Raya, and after Bukayo Saka, Marko Grujic, and Declan Rice all scored, it was down to Galeno to keep the tie alive. But another strong save from Raya settled the contest in Arsenal's favour.

"It's a great moment personally and collectively," Raya said. "This means everything. You play football for these kind of things and I'm lucky to be playing for Arsenal, to be in the Champions League and to get through to the quarter-finals."

Barcelona bounce back to beat Napoli

Barcelona coach Xavi said beating Napoli to reach the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday was one of his finest moments of his career.

The Spanish champions won 3-1 at the Olympic Stadium to seal a 4-2 aggregate win against last year's Serie A winners, returning to the last eight for the first time since 2020.

Fermin Lopez and Joao Cancelo put Barca in control inside the first 17 minutes, and after Amir Rrahmani pulled one back for Napoli on the half-hour mark, Robert Lewandowski made sure of the victory in the 83rd minute.

"There has been a lot of unfair criticism, [that we were] the joke of the Champions League, we had to play with that pressure," Xavi said.

"We had to be better than Napoli and we were, it's a more than deserved qualification, it's one of my best moments as Barcelona coach."

Xavi said he would not change his mind about leaving at the end of the season, a decision he took in January. Since then the team have gone nine matches unbeaten.

Centre-back Pau Cubarsi, 17, was named player of the match award and Xavi lavished praise on the young defender, who has been key in recent weeks.

"He's a very rational kid, he's got a lot of brains, he's patient, he's very humble, he wants to improve," said Xavi. "His sudden emergence is wonderful for Barcelona and Spanish football – we're looking at a top-level defender for years to come."

Like Xavi, Cubarsi said this was a match to remember. "This has been one of the best days of my life," Cubarsi told Movistar. "The team deserves this player of the match trophy, I'm so happy, but we're a group."

Updated: March 13, 2024, 7:08 AM