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Arsenal Held On For Nearly An Hour To Keep Their English League Cup Quarterfinal Against Liverpool Alive

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The Gunners looked set to pay for another moment of madness from former captain Granit Xhaka when he was sent off for chopping down Diogo Jota after just 24 minutes.

However, Liverpool badly missed the firepower of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as they labored to create chances even against the 10 men.

Arsenal held out for over an hour a man down to leave their English League Cup semifinal with Liverpool delicately poised after the first leg ended 0-0 at Anfield on Thursday.

“We revel against the situation. The players showed great fight, determination, brotherhood. You saw the emotion; we never gave up,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

Chelsea already await the winners at Wembley next month after the first leg, originally scheduled to be played at the Emirates last week, was called off due to a coronavirus outbreak among the Liverpool squad.

The Reds were missing Salah and Mane due to their international duties at the Africa Cup of Nations. However, Liverpool otherwise had a clean bill of health and Jurgen Klopp named the strongest side available to him.

Granit Xhaka of Arsenal fouls Diogo Jota of Liverpool during their clash at the Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England, January 13, 2022. /CFP

The home side had the better of a cagey opening quarter with Ben White’s miscued clearance from Takumi Minamino’s cross that skewed just wide the closest either side came before the red card.

Xhaka has remained a key player for Arteta despite his disciplinary issues.

But he will miss Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham and the second leg next Thursday after being sent off for the second time this season.

Jota was played through on goal by Andy Robertson’s pinpoint long ball and the Portuguese was brutally brought down by Xhaka’s lunge.

“We would’ve preferred to have scored the goal instead of them getting a red card,” said Klopp. “From that moment it looks like we are under pressure.

“But it’s a two-legged game and it’s half-time. I can’t remember when it was 0-0 at half-time, wherever I’ve been, and I thought ‘we have no chance’. We will give it a proper go.”

Fiorentina players celebrate their second goal during their Coppa Italia clash with Napoli at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples, Italy, January 13, 2022. /CFP

Elsewhere, Fiorentina saw off nine-man Napoli 5-2 in extra time to reach the Italian Cup quarterfinals, while AC Milan also needed 30 added minutes to get past Genoa.

It is the eighth time in 10 seasons that Fiorentina have made the Cup quarters.

Dusan Vlahovic, who has been heavily linked with a move away from Florence, put the visitors ahead with his 19th goal of the season four minutes before half-time, as the game burst into life.

Napoli winger Dries Mertens leveled just three minutes later, before Fiorentina goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski was sent off for a cynical block on Elif Elmas as the Macedonian looked to take advantage of a defensive mix-up. But the 10 men restored their lead in the 58th minute as Italy left-back Cristiano Biraghi pounced on a rebound inside the box to score.

Napoli also had a man dismissed, as substitute Hirving Lozano was shown a straight red card after a VAR review.

The hosts’ tempers boiled over further in stoppage time, with another sub, Fabian Ruiz, given his marching orders for a second booking. But just seconds later, Napoli’s Andrea Petagna slotted in a remarkable equalizer to force extra time.

Fiorentina made their man advantage count, though, as Lorenzo Venuti and Krzysztof Piatek netted either side of half-time in extra time.

Moroccan Youssef Maleh added a fifth as his side eased into a last-eight clash with Atalanta, who beat Venezia 2-0 on Wednesday. Milan, who sit second in Serie A behind city rivals Inter, came from behind to beat Genoa 3-1 after extra time at the San Siro.

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