Declan Rice admits Arsenal need to find their Champions League “savvy” as Mikel Arteta’s young side continue to learn on the job.

The Gunners lost the first leg of their last 16 tie away to Porto on Wednesday night as Galeno’s brilliant last-gasp strike earned the hosts a 1-0 victory.

It extends Arsenal’s wretched record in Champions League knockout games – they still have not won outside of the group stages since 2010, having exited at the last-16 stage for seven consecutive years under Arsene Wenger.

Arteta secured a return to the top table of European football for the first time since 2017 but Arsenal’s hopes of progressing further suffered a blow at the Estadio do Dragao.

From their starting XI in Porto, only Kai Havertz had any previous experience of playing a Champions League knockout game and Rice conceded that lack of nous cost Arsenal late on.

“I think the last minute is probably a bit of inexperience,” he replied when asked if Arteta’s young team were on a steep learning curve.

“Just probably having a bit more savviness, in terms of it’s the 93rd minute, you look up at the clock, it’s 0-0, we gave a ball away on the edge of our box twice and then he bends one in the top bins.

“So we have got to have a bit of savviness to see out the game, because if you can’t win, definitely don’t lose – especially in a knockout game. But look, we are still positive. It is half-time in a two-leg tie and we will be ready for the next leg.

“You look at our team, we are such a young group. Some of us have not played in the Champions League before, so it is all about learning on the job.

“But we have to play better than we did tonight. They made it really tough, but in the second leg we will be ready to go and give it everything.

“I think it is good to have nerves – you get that experience and you need that to play in the biggest games. Whether there is nerves or no nerves, I think these are the type of games we need to learn from on the way and it is going to make us better overall.”

While the disappointment from the defeat will linger until the return leg at the Emirates Stadium on March 12, Rice knows Arsenal cannot suffer a Champions League hangover.

They are back in Premier League action as they host Newcastle on Saturday.

“Look, we have lost games this year and drawn games, and I have seen the changing room after and it’s been really bad when we have lost and drawn games,” added England international Rice.

“But here, we have just lost, but in there is a real positivity around the group at the minute, around the club.

“We have had such a good start to 2024, I think we take the positives from this game tonight, but also see where we can improve. It is going to be a big game in two weeks’ time and we will be ready for it.”

Motherwell supporters are set to be given some major decisions to make following several proposals to invest in the fan-owned club.

Outgoing chairman Jim McMahon revealed at Motherwell’s annual general meeting on Wednesday night that they had received “four or five serious approaches” following a recent announcement that the club were open to investment.

Talks with two of those interested parties – one American and one multi-national – have “progressed rapidly” but both would result in significant dilution of the Well Society’s 71 per cent stake.

With the interested parties keen to push forward, Well Society members are set to be consulted given at least one of the proposals would reduce their shareholding below 50 per cent, while members have been promised the final say on whether to accept a concrete offer.

The Well Society was set up in 2011 and assumed a majority stake five years later. It has close to 4,000 members, who have already invested £1million in the club, mostly in the form of a loan, while about £750,000 is in a reserve fund.

The news came on the backdrop of financial results which showed the club made a £1.6million loss last season.

McMahon claimed the loss was “fully anticipated, managed and primarily the result of various long-term strategic decisions made by the club in recent years”. The club have invested heavily in Fir Park, including a new £1.2million hybrid pitch, new PA and CCTV systems among other projects.

Turnover was £6.4million, an increase of more than £800,000, the majority of which can be attributed to a rise in income from UEFA.

Staff costs last season were £5.1m, down slightly on the previous campaign. The first-team player budget fell by £340,000, mainly because of a reduction in bonuses, while other staff costs increased by £184,000, partly because of compensation costs to departed managers Graham Alexander and Steven Hammell and their assistants.

As a comparison, fan-owned St Mirren spent £4.3million on their staff costs last season after reaching the top six of the cinch Premiership.

Motherwell have spent significantly more on wages than the likes of St Mirren and Kilmarnock since becoming fan owned but McMahon and interim chief executive Derek Weir have both talked about a funding gap in recent months and the challenge of competing with the likes of Hearts and Hibernian, who have benefited from external funds.

The club had £1.75million cash on May 31 last year, down from more than £4million from 12 months earlier. They expect to have at least £500,000 in the bank at the end of the current financial year but say they have had a profitable season this time round.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that manager Stuart Kettlewell has a contract until the end of next season.

It was widely believed that Kettlewell’s contract was due to expire in the summer as Motherwell had declared his deal was “initially to May 2024” when he was appointed exactly 12 months ago. However, a one-year extension was triggered when Motherwell avoided relegation last season.

The club’s recruitment of a new chief executive is ongoing with Weir scheduled to depart in five weeks. McMahon steps down at the end of the season and another director, Andrew Wilson, has now resigned.

Former Brazil and Barcelona player Dani Alves has been sentenced to four years and six months in prison for sexual assault by a Spanish court.

The 40-year-old former right-back was found guilty of assaulting a woman in a Barcelona nightclub on New Year’s Eve in 2022 and has been in custody since being arrested for the offence in January 2023.

Alves, who must also pay his victim 150,000 euros (£128,000) in compensation and their court costs, has the right to appeal against his sentence.

A statement from the Audiencia de Barcelona on Thursday read: “The Court of Barcelona has condemned footballer Dani Alves to four years and six months in prison for sexual assault.

“The victim must also receive 150,000 euros and have their legal costs paid.

“The sentence takes into consideration that it has been proven the victim did not consent and that there is evidence in addition to their testimony that proves the offence.”

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk admits the team was probably guilty of trying too hard to compensate for the absence of a host of star players in the 4-1 victory over Luton.

Forwards Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah were the latest added to an absentee list, which had grown to 11 senior players and left manager Jurgen Klopp short of options, certainly of match-winners, as his bench comprised three defenders and four academy players.

The likes of Harvey Elliott and Cody Gakpo, and to a lesser extent Luis Diaz, all struggled up front in the first half, but four goals in an impressive second-half comeback after going behind in the 12th minute re-established a four-point advantage at the top of the Premier League.

Klopp’s side have won now 22 points from losing positions this season, more than any other team.

“First half with the very first chance (for Diaz) we could have changed the game, but we were a bit rushed in the final third,” said Van Dijk.

“Obviously the way we turned it around was credit to the boys.

“Staying calm is the most difficult thing to do, especially in the situation where we are at; everyone wants to show themselves and play their best game ever, and you have to try to stay calm and find the right solution.

“The first half was a bit rushed and that’s why we struggled a little bit in that sense. Being 1-0 down is never nice, but the way we bounced back is good to see.”

Elliott, on his 100th appearance, scored the team’s 100th goal of the season with the late fourth to end his night on a high after coming in for some vociferous criticism from the crowd.

However, Klopp – who remonstrated with a fan who appeared to target Elliott after yet another pass went astray in the first half – defended the 20-year-old.

“Top performance. And Harvey is a top player; 100 games for Liverpool FC in not the worst period of the club’s history, where you cannot afford players who (just) play the position, that’s a proper sign,” he added.

“He had not a great first half. There was a pass with Lucho (Diaz); I saw he wants to play the pass instead of maybe he can go in a one-on-one situation.

“But the reaction in the second half is the main difference, that’s the thing. That made this performance the performance and I’m so happy for him.

“I don’t lose patience in these moments, I know that it’s a challenge for young boys.

“When everything is great, they are super talents. When things don’t go well, you have to show up. And that’s what he’s learning more and more.

“And with 100 games under his belt, we all know he will definitely play another 100, 200, 300 – if you ask him, 500 – for this club.”

England head coach Sarina Wiegman believes her side have “moved on” from the heartbreak of missing out on Olympic qualification.

The Lionesses face Austria on Friday and Italy next Tuesday in a pair of friendlies which have replaced what they hoped would be Nations League semi-finals.

A 6-0 thrashing of Scotland looked to have secured top spot in Group A1 in December, only for the Netherlands to score twice in added time against Belgium to pip England on goal difference and end Team GB’s hopes of qualifying for Paris 2024.

“This is really the start of our Euros campaign and after the very disappointing result of not qualifying for the play-offs to qualify for the Olympics we moved on,” said Wiegman, whose side will bid to defend their European title in Switzerland next year.

“This is the start, with two friendlies which is really good for us because we can try out some things.

“We are also very close to the Under-23s [also training in Spain] so we can see them, we can connect with them and we get a lot of players that we can see where they are at this moment.

“This is a great start because in April the Nations League starts which are the qualifiers for the Euros.”

Euro 2022-winning captain Leah Williamson had been named in Wiegman’s squad for the first time since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament rupture, but the Arsenal defender withdrew with a hamstring injury on Sunday.

Asked if club coaches had requested a limit on player minutes amid a three-way Women’s Super League title race and a spate of high-profile injuries, Wiegman said: “Not this time.

“We are in contact with each other all the time, we update each other and of course we know how important the Women’s Super League is too but also the German League for Georgia [Stanway] and the Spanish league for the players who play in Spain at the moment.

“Of course, we want to take care of the players but we want to do lots of things. We play to win but we also have the opportunity now to try out things and also manage minutes. With a busy calendar I think that’s something to be aware of.

“The issue of injuries is a bigger picture and it’s about the load on the players. The calendar we talk about a lot, that we really have to address the calendar. I spoke up about that last week – we really ask FIFA and UEFA to change things.

“But we are doing a job as good as possible with all the expertise we have in our team and staff. We have a programme and we monitor the players really well.

“You’re in an environment where an injury can happen because it’s a physical sport, but if you can diminish the risk of injuries as much as possible, that’s also what we try to do.”

What the papers say

Paris St Germain and Liverpool are both interested in England defender Levi Colwill, but Chelsea are not keen on seeing the 20-year-old leave the Blues, says the Evening Standard.

West Ham are eyeing striker Dominic Solanke, who currently plays for Bournemouth, the Daily Telegraph writes.

As per the Daily Telegraph, Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel is eager to return to England when he wraps up at the German club at the end of the season.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Marc Guehi: Manchester United could join Liverpool in the race to sign the Crystal Palace defender, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Kylian Mbappe: Liverpool’s uncertainty over Mohamed Salah cost the club the chance to sign the Paris St Germain star ahead of Real Madrid, talkSPORT reports.

Mason Greenwood: Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are gearing up for a showdown for the Manchester United forward, as the Red Devils appear eager to offload the striker following his loan spell at Getafe, says the Daily Mail.

Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has set out his vision for bringing some of the Eric Cantona glamour and swagger back to Old Trafford.

The 71-year-old Ineos founder and chairman wants the club he has supported since the age of six to be seriously challenging their “noisy” north-west neighbours Manchester City and Liverpool for domestic and European titles within three seasons, and “knock them both off their perch”.

In a wide-ranging briefing, Ratcliffe also:

:: Outlined his hope to either redevelop Old Trafford at a cost of around £1billion, or build a new £2billion stadium with state support that could host England matches, FA Cup finals and Champions League finals.

:: Admitted Dan Ashworth would be “a very good addition” to the Manchester United leadership as sporting director and said it would be “absurd” if he remained on gardening leave after his departure from Newcastle.

:: Pledged that a fresh decision would be taken on Mason Greenwood’s future.

:: Joked about whether Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim, his long-time rival for full control of United, even existed.

Ratcliffe, who by the end of the year will hold a 28.9 per cent stake in United and whose Ineos company now controls football operations at Old Trafford, conducted the interview with a bust wearing a United number seven shirt stationed behind him, collar turned up in the fashion of the club’s hero of the 1990s Eric Cantona.

“(Cantona) was the catalyst for change in Sir Alex Ferguson’s era … and then that sort of kickstarted everything off. He was the sort of talisman,” Ratcliffe said.

“There has always been a bit of glamour attached to Manchester United which has been lacking a bit in the last few years. You’ve had George Best, Bobby Charlton, Eric the King for a while.

“At the end of the day we are in the entertainment business. So that’s why you don’t want to watch bland football or characterless football.

“And to be honest, since Christmas, with the young lads, they have played some fantastic football.

“There have been some great matches. I can’t remember many matches at the beginning of the season I was really excited by but since Christmas we have played some really good football and there has been a bit of glamour attached to some of these footballers on the pitch, and we have really enjoyed it.

“The three young lads (Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo) sitting on the hoarding at the side – that was a good picture. So I think that’s the ‘Eric’ point really. We are cognizant of the fact you do need a bit of glamour in this.”

Ratcliffe says improving the club’s record on recruitment is “top of the list” of things to get right, and publicly stated his club’s interest in Dan Ashworth, who has been placed on gardening leave by Newcastle after expressing his desire to leave the Tyneside club.

“I think it’d be a very good addition to Manchester United, but he (Ashworth) needs to decide whether he’s going to make that jump,” Ratcliffe said.

“We’ve obviously had words with Newcastle. They clearly would be disappointed to lose Dan. I understand why they would be disappointed to lose Dan but but then you can’t equally criticise Dan because it is a transient industry.

“So we’ll have to see how it unfolds.”

Ratcliffe said it would be “a bit silly” if it took £20million to secure Ashworth’s services, and added: “What I do think is completely absurd is suggesting that a man who’s really good at his job, sits in his garden for one and a half years.”

Also key to the transformation as Ratcliffe sees it is a redeveloped Old Trafford or a new stadium built partially with state support.

Ratcliffe said a taskforce would be set up to look at the feasibility of the latter option and agreed former Manchester United defender Gary Neville would be an “obvious” person to include on it.

Ratcliffe sees no issue with one of the world’s richest clubs in United seeking state support for such a project.

“The people in the north pay their taxes like the people in the south pay their taxes,” he said.

“But where’s the national stadium for football? It’s in the south. Where’s the national stadium for rugby? It’s in the south. Where’s the national stadium for tennis? It’s in the south. Where’s the national concert stadium? It’s the O2, it’s in the south. Where’s the Olympic Village? It’s in the south.

“All of this talk about levelling up and the Northern Powerhouse… where is the stadium in the north? How many Champions Leagues has the north-west won and how many Champions Leagues has London won? The answer to that is the north-west has won 10 – Liverpool have won more than us – and London has won two.

“Where do you have to go if you get to the semi-final of the FA Cup and you’re a northern club? You have to schlep down to London, don’t you?

“People in the north pay their taxes and there is an argument that you could think about a more ambitious project in the north which would be fitting for England, for the Champions League final or the FA Cup final and act as a catalyst to regenerate southern Manchester, which has got quite significant history in the UK.”

Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham had a front row seat as star man Lionel Messi put on a show in the Major League Soccer curtain raiser against Real Salt Lake.

The Manchester United and England great flew to Florida for the season opener and will have liked what he saw from Tata Martino’s ambitious team in Wednesday’s 2-0 win.

Messi put in a man-of-the-match display, producing some outrageous footwork, seeing a free-kick cleared off the line and hitting the bar directly from a corner before setting up Robert Taylor’s opener.

The 36-year-old received a half-time hug from Will Smith – one of the stars in attendance at upgraded Chase Stadium – and continued to play with an irresistible swagger.

While Miami lost their way as a team after their dominant first half, they dug deep and eventually killed off vastly improved RSL.

Messi showed brilliant strength, speed and close control to drive forward through the middle before playing in Luis Suarez, who set up Diego Gomez to score in the 83rd minute.

That moment gave Miami new life and the former Liverpool striker saw a debut goal brilliantly denied by Zac MacMath, who was guilty of allowing Taylor’s first-half strike to squirm past him.

Salt Lake’s goalkeeper also thwarted Messi at the end of an incredible run down the right as the hosts ended a challenging second half on a high.

In truth, the only person able to keep up with the Argentina skipper on Wednesday was his personal bodyguard, who went up and down the touchline tracking the star throughout the game.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp evoked memories of their famous win over Barcelona in 2019 during their “thunderstorm” second-half comeback to beat Luton 4-1.

Trailing to Chiedozie Ogbene’s 12th-minute header, Klopp’s side were a different prospect after the break with Virgil van Dijk, Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz and Harvey Elliott bringing up 100 goals for the season.

While it by no means matched the magnitude of their Champions League semi-final comeback after losing the first leg 3-0 to the Catalan giants, it was significant in terms of the title race – re-establishing a four-point lead over Manchester City – and the invigorating atmosphere which the team will undoubtedly have to lean on during the run-in.

“Tonight is one of those nights where it is difficult to stop talking. I am so happy,” said Klopp, who was without 11 first-team players including forwards Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez who remain doubtful for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea.

“We had to ignore the fact we were 1-0 down and use the things that are good and improve the counter-press. The second half was a thunderstorm. Wow.

“I will mention this game from now quite a few times. I promised my team a few months ago that I would never mention or use the Barcelona game as an example and I used it again today so I broke my promise.

“Just because before the game, it was kind of similar. Many players missing, stuff like this. The team that time ignored the fact who is missing and I want us to ignore the fact who is missing.

“That is difficult because the public got the whole knowledge of who is missing only tonight. It’s like… I needed a few minutes to process it when I got all the news.

“But from that moment on, when you know how you can deal with it and sort it for this game, it feels really good. That is what I wanted the boys to show.

“This is an example tonight. This is their Barcelona, now against Luton. A difficult situation, plenty of reasons to give up in moments: not tonight and I saw only a super group fighting.

“If you don’t limit yourself with bad thoughts, you can fly. And that’s what the boys did.”

Luton head coach Rob Edwards, whose side were impressive in the first half, admitted scoring so early just made their task harder.

“We just made them angry,” he said. “Overall it was a really good first half. Second half I thought we saw Anfield, saw Liverpool, saw their full-throttle football. Their counter-pressing football was amazing.

“In the end, it was a great learning curve for us to see what the best looks like. I know they had some players missing, but their second-half performance was like the best out there.

“I thought we were very, very good. They were better.”

Mikel Arteta bemoaned a lack of aggression from his Arsenal side in the Champions League defeat at Porto but said it would be “cruel” to judge their return to the knockout stages on the last-gasp goal that settled the contest.

The Gunners’ hopes of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in 14 years suffered a blow as Galeno’s fine late strike saw Porto win 1-0 in the last 16 first-leg tie.

With the second leg at the Emirates Stadium on March 12, Arteta now knows his side must win on home soil to reach the business end of the Champions League on their long-awaited return.

Arsenal, more than anyone, know there are no easy games at this stage of Europe’s elite club competition – having fallen at this hurdle seven years in a row under Arsene Wenger.

This is their first time back at this level since the last of those in 2017 and it proved much more challenging than the recent Premier League thrashings of West Ham and Burnley for a team inexperienced on these occasions – Kai Havertz the only player from the starting XI with any previous appearances in the Champions League knockout phases.

The vistiors failing to register a shot on target on a tough night at the Estadio do Dragao with Porto more than a match for the Gunners, frustrating the visitors for much of the evening and ultimately capitalising on some lapse defending to secure a late victory.

“Obviously I am very disappointed the way we gave the game away at the end,” Arteta said.

“Not managing that situation well enough. You get punished in the Champions League. If you cannot win it, you don’t lose it.

“We really dominated the game but we lacked purpose, especially in the first half. You need to have much more aggression, you need to break lines, to play forward and generate much more threat on that backline.

“We will learn from it. Now it is clear, it is half-time. If you want to be in the quarter-finals you have to beat your opponent and that will be the purpose and the plan.”

Asked if his team were naive to fall to defeat in such a way, Arteta added: “Well it’s only the last ball, so if in 94 minutes they haven’t had any naivety other than that one.

“I think it’s a bit cruel to judge it. But it’s true that it has had a big impact on the result. A lot of other things they did for the first time here were very good. When you give the ball away three times in that area – you cannot do it.”

Arteta also criticised the performance of referee Serdar Gozubuyuk, who awarded 36 fouls – the most in a Champions League game this season – and often spent time ahead of set-pieces speaking to players in the box.

“From set-pieces as well every time we touched somebody it seemed to be a foul before we even kicked the ball. But we will learn and do better,” added the Spaniard.

Porto, captained by 40-year-old Pepe, appeared much more streetwise to the task at hand, leaving head coach Sergio Conceicao happy with the result.

He said: “The team understood perfectly the spaces they had to step into to condition our opponents and also what we had to do up front to hurt them.

“It was a good game, a Champions League game. Our opponents had more of the ball, but Porto were always more dangerous.”

Victor Osimhen rescued Napoli a 1-1 home draw against Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in his first appearance for the Italian club since December.

Osimhen, who had served a ban in Napoli’s previous game after returning from Africa Cup of Nations duty for runners-up Nigeria, stole clear in the penalty area with 15 minutes remaining to fire home an equaliser.

Barcelona had taken a deserved lead on the hour-mark through Robert Lewandowski’s 93rd Champions League goal.

It was Napoli’s first game since they sacked head coach Walter Mazzarri after three months in charge and replaced him with Slovakian Francesco Calzona.

Porto winger Galeno’s stunning stoppage-time winner clinched his side a 1-0 win against Arsenal in the first leg of their tie.

Arsenal looked set to return to London all-square after a cagey tactical battle at Estadio do Dragao, but Brazilian Galeno crashed home a shot from outside the box in the fourth minute of added time.

The Gunners, bidding to reach the tournament’s last eight for the first time since 2010, created few chances, while Galeno struck a post with a close-range effort in the first half.

Kai Havertz had Arsenal’s best two chances late in the first half, firing off target from six yards before heading Bukayo Saka’s corner just wide.

The two sides will meet in the return leg at the Emirates Stadium on March 12.

Victor Osimhen snatched an unlikely 1-1 draw for Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona.

The Nigeria striker cancelled out a trademark Robert Lewandowski strike as a low-quality tie ended all square.

The champions of Italy met the champions of Spain in what should have been the glamour tie of the round at Napoli’s Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

The Argentinian’s name is synonymous with glory days at both clubs but now both are struggling to recapture last season’s title-winning successes.

Napoli, a lowly ninth in Serie A, sacked Walter Mazzarri on Monday with Francesco Calzona replacing him as their third manager of the season.

The Slovakia coach, appointed on an interim basis, had just 48 hours to try to inject some life into their dismal campaign.

Meanwhile, Barca boss Xavi – whose side lie eight points behind rivals Real Madrid in La Liga – announced last month he would be leaving at the end of the campaign.

Two sides bereft of confidence locked horns with Barca, without Gavi, Ferran Torres, Marcos Alonso and Sergi Roberto through injury, dominating the first half but lacking any real goal threat.

Lamine Yamal, their 16-year-old sensation, brought the first save from Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret with a fierce drive from the edge of the area.

Lewandowski’s first chance came from Ilkay Gundogan’s through-ball but his flicked finish was blocked by Meret.

The Napoli defence then opened up invitingly for Gundogan, whose dipping effort was also beaten away by Meret.

For Napoli, Osimhen was playing his first match since before Christmas but he looked isolated up front as the hosts finished the first half without a single effort on goal.

That sorry stat at least changed at the start of the second half when Matteo Politano planted an early header wide.

Gundogan should have done better with Yamal’s cut-back to the edge of the box but his side-footed effort was easily dealt with by Meret.

But Lewandowski broke the deadlock on the hour when Pedri played the ball into his feet.

Lewandowski expertly turned and fired low between two defenders and beyond the dive of Meret.

It was the Poland international’s 93rd Champions League goal, although he had not scored in his last four appearances in the competition.

But Barca had only kept one clean sheet in their previous nine matches and a blunt Napoli attack finally woke up in the 75th minute.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa drove the ball forward and Osimhen rolled Inigo Martinez, who claimed he was fouled, before tucking the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Both sides could have grabbed a winner but Napoli substitute Giovanni Simeone blazed over before Gundogan fired inches wide in stoppage time.

Arsenal’s hopes of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 14 years suffered a blow as they slipped to a last-gasp defeat in the first leg of their last 16 clash in Porto.

On the eve of the tie, Mikel Arteta challenged his players to prove they belong on this stage but they laboured for large parts of the game and failed to register a shot on target throughout a largely drab affair, losing 1-0 at the death courtesy of a stunning Galeno strike.

With the second leg at the Emirates Stadium on March 12, Arteta now knows his side must win on home soil to reach the business end of the Champions League on their long-awaited return.

Arsenal, more than anyone, know there are no easy games at this stage of Europe’s elite club competition – having fallen at this hurdle seven years in a row under Arsene Wenger.

This is their first time back at this level since the last of those in 2017 and it proved much more challenging than the recent Premier League thrashings of West Ham and Burnley.

Porto currently sit third in the Primeira Liga, off the pace of their big rivals Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, but they were a match for the Gunners, frustrating the visitors for much of the evening.

Declan Rice was walking a tightrope for almost the entirety of the contest after he was booked for a late challenge on Galeno with just 67 seconds on the clock.

Arsenal were not at their recent, slick best and were very fortunate not to fall behind just before the midway point of the first half as Galeno wasted two great chances in quick succession.

After a cross dropped to him in the box, with the Brazilian fizzing a shot off the far post and then somehow turned the rebound wide for six yards – the home fans flummoxed as they celebrated along with the music that greets a goal for the hosts inside the Estadio do Dragao.

The let-off failed to rouse Arsenal from something of a slumber, but they did finally have their first shot on the evening after 33 minutes and should have taken the lead themselves soon after only for William Saliba to head a Bukayo Saka corner wide.

Porto were still the more likely to open the scoring, though, as Evanilson drew a low save out of David Raya with what proved to be the only shot on target from either side until the late winner.

Kai Havertz, who scored the winning goal in a Champions League final in this stadium for Chelsea, was next to miss the target with a header from a Saka corner.

Set-pieces certainly seemed Arsenal’s best way to goal and Leandro Trossard will feel he should have done better as he peeled off to the back post from a corner early in the second half, only to fire Rice’s centre harmlessly over.

There were no other opportunities of note until the dying embers, when Galeno collected the ball and brilliantly bent a finish over the out-stretched Raya as the whole Porto bench burst onto the pitch in celebration.

For Arsenal, they return to their Premier League title challenge knowing their backs are against the wall in their quest to progress in Europe.

A stirring second-half comeback saw Premier League leaders Liverpool restore their four-point advantage at the top and avoid one of the shocks of the season with a 4-1 victory over Luton.

Chiedozie Ogbene’s early header was only the 11th league goal a visiting team had scored at Anfield this season but for a long time it looked like producing another twist in the title race as the depleted hosts struggled to find their best form.

But headers from Virgil van Dijk and Cody Gakpo within the space of two minutes turned things around before Luis Diaz and Harvey Elliott fired home to ease them away from the clutches of second-placed Manchester City.

Any slip up, even at this stage, could have significant implications in what is currently a three-way battle and without this victory City would have had the chance to go top at Bournemouth on Saturday as Liverpool are otherwise engaged in the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea.

That Wembley encounter meant no risks were taken with Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez, who are both carrying knocks, but with injuries had already ruling out nine other players it left Jurgen Klopp with very few options.

What the first half, in particular, showed was that stand-ins Elliott and Gakpo lacked half-a-yard of pace both over the ground and in their passing.

They were not helped by some poor decision-making by Diaz, the one regular starter in the forward line, who in only the third minute delayed his shot too long as he tried to manoeuvre it on to his right foot and then shot wide with only goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski to beat.

Luton stunned Anfield by taking the lead in the 12th minute. Tahith Chong received a return pass from Cauley Woodrow before shooting from a narrow angle and the ball squeezed under Caoimhin Kelleher and bounced up to the far post where Ogbene headed into an empty goal.

Luton’s gameplan was then to try to attack the space behind the full-backs but limit Liverpool’s options by going man-for-man in defence, which often left them two on two.

The last visiting team to win a league game at Anfield – Leeds in October 2022 – did the same.

And Luton also worked harder – Albert Sambi Lokonga easing Elliott off the ball as he looked to shoot from Gakpo’s flick-on – and smarter as the hosts resorted to firing in long-range shots.

Elliott’s radar was off from two breakaways as his passes to Gakpo were three feet short and two yards too long as the final ball continued to elude them and frustrations threatened to boil over with Klopp exploding in rage at a fan near the front of the main stand, presumably for his negative reaction to a third mis-placed Elliott pass.

The early omens in the second half were not much better as Diaz fired straight at Teden Mengi but when Gakpo’s near-post shot was turned behind Van Dijk powered home a header from Alexis Mac Allister’s 56th-minute corner.

Two minutes later it was Gakpo producing a brilliant leap to launch Conor Bradley’s cross past Kaminski, who had brilliantly saved Bradley’s deflected shot with his legs.

The Luton goalkeeper did even better to repel another powerful Van Dijk header as Liverpool turned the screw, with substitute Andy Robertson charging forward to tee up Diaz for the third.

In doing so he became the fifth Liverpool player to reach double figures, which is the best of any team in Europe’s top five leagues, with Elliott grabbing his second of the season late on as Luton remained in the bottom three.

Manchester United defender Luke Shaw is expected to be sidelined for “a few months” due to a muscle injury.

Shaw had to come off just before half time in Sunday’s 2-1 victory at Luton, a match for which he had been a doubt.

The 28-year-old left-back had previously been substituted at the break in the 2-1 win at Aston Villa a week earlier in what boss Erik ten Hag said was a precautionary move.

A statement from United on Wednesday evening said: “Luke Shaw has sustained a muscle injury and will be out for an extended period.

“Further assessment is still required to determine the severity but we expect him to be absent for a few months.”

Shaw, who has made just 15 appearances in all competitions in an injury-interrupted season, had only returned to action in January after a month out.

His latest setback – a worry for England boss Gareth Southgate ahead of this summer’s Euros in Germany – comes with fellow United left-back Tyrell Malacia also sidelined and with the club in January having opted to cut short Sergio Reguilon’s loan from Tottenham.

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