What the UCL?! Bozza slams ‘really poor’ keeper as Gunners lose tie with ‘more stoppages than rugby’, Barca held by Napoli


Frustrated by a finnicky referee and beaten by a late stunner, Arsenal have it all to do to make the last eight of the Champions League after a 1-0 loss at Porto. Napoli, meanwhile, came from behind to draw 1-1 with Barcelona in their first leg round of 16 tie.

The Gunners failed to have a shot on target in a Champions League game for the first time since 2011 – although admittedly they’ve spent the past seven years out of the competition.

And while 0-0 in the 93rd minute away from home against a Porto team that nullified Arsenal’s set piece threat by flopping to the ground and being awarded cheap free kicks ad nauseum was looking like a job almost well done, the sting in the tail could prove decisive.

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Gabriel Martinelli, who lacked his usual verve all night, gave away a loose pass that was picked off and fed to Porto’s Galeno, who earlier spurned the best chance of the game by hitting a post and failing to turn in the rebound.

As Ben White and Declan Rice held off and allowed Galeno time, he looked up and bent a stunner around David Raya – the Arsenal goalkeeper copping some flack after the ball nestled in the side netting, rather than the top corner.

SCENES ???? Porto strike in stoppage time and they’ll take a lead to London for Leg 2!

↳ UCL Round of 16. Porto v Arsenal, live now. Every match, only on Stan Sport. Exclusive & Ad-free. Live & On Demand.#StanSportAU #UCL #PORARS pic.twitter.com/uPsl5qGzGQ

— Stan Sport Football (@StanSportFC) February 21, 2024

Former Socceroos and Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich was scathing of Raya’s role in the goal, on the Stan Sport coverage.

“It was really poor positioning,” said Bozza. “You see where the ball enters the goal. It’s low down basically. That’s always a great indicator. If it’s up in the top corner you might say ‘okay’. But that is really poor positioning.”

Raya joined from Brentford in the off season, and has usurped Aaron Ramsdale as Arsenal’s No.1. After a shaky start he has been much improved as the Gunners stayed in the title race with Liverpool and Manchester City – but Bosnich believes he’s been a costly mistake.

“I’m sorry but this situation with David Raya: I think he’s lost them points already in the league – I think they’d be well clear in the league and it’s cost them in Europe,” said Bosnich.

“In the game against Lens they were cruising, he made a mistake got Lens back in there and it cost them the game.

“You’re going to see how much it costs you when any new player, especially the goalkeeper, is not quite up to what I would say is a championship winning goalkeeper.

“I think with David Raya, you’re going to struggle to win the title. When you come up against other top teams these little differences become apparent.”

Striker light?

The Gunners have scored 11 goals in their past two Premier League games but it hasn’t stopped a former star, Theo Walcott, revisiting the debate over their striker depth.

With Gabriel Jesus incapable of stringing a long run of games together and absent again, Arteta used the same formation – with Kai Havertz and Leo Trossard alternating between left eight and No.9.

Unlike the 5-0 thrashing of Burnley it failed to make any inroads and a couple of set peice headers over or wide were as close as Arsenal came.

“I’ve said this numerous times recently, I think the argument about Arsenal’s lack of prolific goalscorer will rear its ugly head again,” said Walcott.

“I am a big fan of a certain Brentford forward that I won’t name [Ivan Toney]… But it is one of those. Arsenal are a really big team, but with all the set pieces, if you’ve got someone like that in your team you are an even bigger threat.

“There was no Gabriel Jesus tonight, so Arsenal didn’t really have anyone else to call upon. Kai Havertz as good as he has been recently, he is not a striker either.

“That is something that Edu and Mikel Arteta will be discussing in the summer, there is no doubt about that.”

The Gunners will go to the second leg with plenty of hope but they got a European reality check from Dutch referee Serdar Gozubuyuk.

He blew a ridiculous 36 freekicks – 22 against the visitors the most conceded by any team in this year’s competition – with the gentlest of nudges or touches deemed fouls.

This Porto-Arsenal game has been class if you like a referee whistling a lot and giving more stoppages for technicalities than rugby.

— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) February 21, 2024

Arsenal have the most goals in the Premier League from set pieces and Porto go their tactics spot on, hurling themselves to ground and winning the favour of the ref.

#PORARS the referee won it. All Porto players had to do is push themselves against an Arsenal player and go down. pic.twitter.com/mrn95QR2ox

— WACHAYU (@wachupaulus) February 21, 2024

“We couldn’t even touch anybody because everything was a free kick,” said Arteta. “We will learn from that, prepare better, and go and do it.”

The manager, who has a disappointing record in European football despite his advances in the PL in the past two seasons,, did acknowledge his team was ultimately speared by their own error.

 “We have to manage much better,” he said. “We cannot win with the way we handled the ball on three occasions in deep areas.

“We lacked threat. We lacked aggression, especially with the ball in the final third. We can do better.”


Victor Osimhen salvaged a draw for Napoli in his first club appearance since December due to his appearance at AFCON.

Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring for Barca in the 60th minute from the edge of the area and the visitors were dominant in Italy.

Osimhen is BACK ???? He equalises for Napoli!

↳ UCL Round of 16. Napoli v Barcelona, live now. Every match, only on Stan Sport. Exclusive & Ad-free. Live & On Demand.#StanSportAU #UCL #NAPFCB pic.twitter.com/s97DGgim97

— Stan Sport Football (@StanSportFC) February 21, 2024

“There is a bit of sadness, after the 1-0 Napoli woke up but this is the Champions League,” said Barca coach Xavi Hernandez. ” If there was a team that deserved to win it was Barcelona. I liked the team a lot in both departments, both in front and in defence.”

Barca unveiled a new starlet – 16-year-old Lamine Yamal became the youngest player to feature in the Champions League knockout stage and was lively down the right hand side as the Spanish giants took control.

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