Arsenal made it three wins from three in our Europa League group, as a stubborn performance from our boys - and a goal from Danny Welbeck - saw us take the points in Lisbon.
Make no mistake, this was our toughest test of the group, with Lisbon showing their pedigree last season in the competition with a run to the Quarters, only to be stopped by eventual winners Atletico.
Unai Emery treated it as such and named a strong, if slightly experimental side. With Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac both not quite fit, we had midfielder Granit Xhaka in at left-back. A choice that could cause us problems, but there were surprises in store.
We had Guendouzi and Elneny in the engine room, and there was a recall for Aaron Ramsey - our captain on the night - in the three behind our sole striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Mkhitaryan and Danny Welbeck completed the strong lineup,
Much has been made of the disparity between our first and second half performances. In the first forty five minutes in our recent games, we have failed to deliver and struggled to make an impact.
In the second half of our games, we have been a Rolls Royce of a football team, obliterating teams and scoring a bagful of goals.
This first half against Sporting did nothing to dispel that theory, but much was down to the nature of football that the home side chose to play, as much as our struggle to stretch them.
The first half? Dreary. We had the better of possession, which was nothing new, but when it came to shots, we managed just two off-target efforts. We had plenty who wanted to burst into the box, but in terms of creation, Mkhitaryan was lacking and our best man for the job was on the bench.
That was about it for the first half, non-eventful, but if we’re taking positives, we stuck it out and gave as good as we got, with Sporting taking the physical approach and we didn’t back down.
The second half had to show an improvement though, and we got it. Emery’s words in the dressing room must have resonated, as Aubameyang had two good chances in the box minutes apart, with Ribeiro denying him.
This gave us a bit of initiative, and Guendouzi created a chance for Welbeck, and his effort was deflected wide.
Much better, and we were on a crest of a wave. Soon after, we got the goal that would decide the game.
Sebastian Coates, the former Anfield player, made an error, and the ever-sharp Welbeck pounced, and he finished well between Ribeiro’s legs.
In truth it was no less than we deserved. We showed the majority of attacking intent and Sporting struggled to make a dent, and Coates should’ve seen red in the closing minutes after a blatant headbutt, but it wasn’t spotted by the ref.
We saw out the game though, and it was our first ever away victory in Portugal. It also left us on maximum points and in the driving seat in the group. Want some more impressive stats?
The goal was Welbeck’s fifth this season in just ten games - a ratio of one every other game.
This was our 11th consecutive win, which is our best run since 2007!
Finally, this was the first European game where we didn’t concede a shot on target since 2015. It is this last stat that is probably the most impressive. For all of our doubts about our backline, for us not to concede a single shot on our goal shows we can hold firm and we are capable of much more than we have shown in defence.
Bottom line is we got a tough three points, and we carried on the streak.
We are looking in rude health.