Arsenal star Aaron Ramsdale praised for ‘nice moment’ with David Raya after Porto win | Football

David Raya and Aaron Ramsdale shared a lovely moment after Arsenal’s win (Picture: Getty)

Paul Merson applauded Aaron Ramsdale for the ‘nice moment’ he shared with Arsenal’s penalty shootout hero David Raya in the wake of the side’s Champions League last-16 victory over Porto.

Five years to the day after turning out for Blackburn against Wigan in the Championship, Raya denied Wendell and Galeno from 12 yards to secure the Gunners a place in the quarter-finals, with Martin Odegaard, Kai Havertz, Bukayo Saka and Declan Rice all converting their spot-kicks.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Arsenal attacker Leandro Trossard had earlier levelled the tie with a composed 41st-minute strike to send the Emirates into raptures.

But the two teams could not separated after normal and extra-time and Raya stood up when it mattered most, in what has been a rollercoaster season for the goalkeeper since his loan move from Brentford.

Amid the jubilant scenes after Arsenal’s shootout win, TV cameras captured a beaming Ramsdale giving Raya a bear hug and congratulating his fellow ‘keeper on his performance.

Ramsdale has lost his place between the sticks to Raya and faces an uncertain future in north London, with club legend David Seaman this week saying the England international had to consider his options after falling down the pecking order.

‘It’s an amazing night for Raya who, let’s be honest, took a lot of stick when he first got to Arsenal,’ ex-Arsenal and England midfielder Merson told Sky Sports in the immediate aftermath of the win.

‘He’s proven tonight what a brilliant goalkeeper he is.’

David Raya and Aaron Ramsdale hug after Arsenal's Champions League win

Ramsdale gave Raya a bear hug shortly after the penalty shootout triumph (TNT Sports)

Asked whether Raya’s recent displays proved Mikel Arteta was right to back the shot-stopper, Merson replied: ‘Yeah, I think so.

‘He stuck with him, he wanted him in, he’s brought him in and fair play to him.

‘And it’s a nice moment… Ramsdale has gone over to him, classy, and he’s smiling and cuddling him. It’s a nice touch.’

Merson is confident Arsenal can go a ‘long way’ in the competition (Picture: Sky Sports)

After Arsenal secured a Champions League quarter-final place for the first time since 2010, Merson claimed his former side possessed the quality and character to go ‘a long, long, long, long way’ in the competition.

‘They’re through the to quarter-finals, top of the Premier League. It’s all going well for Arsenal at the moment. Brilliant,’ he added.

‘It only gives you confidence [in the title race]. Plus, you’ve also got that extra thing to fall back on. If they’d have gone out and then lost to Manchester City then you’re on a bit of a downer.

‘Now, all of a sudden, they go to Manchester City, they’ve still got the Champions League as well. It’s a massive, massive boost for Arsenal and it’s brilliant for the fans as well.’

Leandro Trossard scores for Arsenal

Trossard levelled the tie with a 41st-minute strike at the Emirates (Picture: Getty)

Merson continued: ‘Again, in this game, they didn’t know whether to stick or twist, didn’t really play with a tempo. But they stuck in there.

‘Porto were a lot better than I thought they would be, I thought they were outstanding.

‘What brilliant penalties by Arsenal, brilliant goalkeeping. When you’ve got penalties like that and you’ve penalty takers and a goalkeeper that can save penalties, you can go a long, long, long, long way in this competition.’

Arsenal are the ‘biggest threat’ to City’s Champions League defence, says Merson (Picture: Getty)

Merson believes Arsenal are ‘moving forward’ under Arteta and pose the ‘biggest threat’ to Champions League holders Manchester City – last year’s treble winners – this season.

‘Over two legs, they are Manchester City’s biggest threat, in my opinion,’ he went on.

‘I think Arsenal can go a long way if they can stay away from Manchester City.

‘It’s got the elephant out of the room. They’ve been going out of these competitions too often, many years ago at this stage, and they’ve gone through tonight.

‘Arsenal are moving forward, they are a very good team.’

Arsenal can now look ahead to the Champions League quarter-final draw which takes place on March 15.

In Tuesday night’s other second leg clash, La Liga giants Barcelona booked their spot in the next stage with a 4-2 aggregate defeat of Serie A champions Napoli.

Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid had already progressed, while Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund, PSV Eindhoven all remain in the hunt for the last eight.

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