Wenger counting cost of London loss


Published: Wednesday 18th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Arsene Wenger accepted his Arsenal side were left to pay a heavy price for their failures in the first leg after watching his side battle to a 2-0 win at Monaco, but still bow out of the Champions League.

The Gunners were always going to be up against the odds trying to overturn a 3-1 deficit from the Emirates Stadium, when a third away goal on the break deep into stoppage time had come moments after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain grabbed what should have been a lifeline.

No team had recovered from such a deficit in the Champions League era when heading into the away second leg, and it proved to be just too big a gamble in the principality, famous for its casinos and yacht-lined waterfront.

Olivier Giroud’s first-half effort and Aaron Ramsey’s goal on 79 minutes set up a grandstand finale, but the valiant Gunners just fell short.

Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved a late header from Alexis Sanchez as Arsenal’s European dreams were ended at the last-16 stage once again.

At the full-time whistle, the Monaco bench celebrated wildly they reached a first Champions League quarter-final since 2003-04.

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim accused Arsenal of being “disrespectful” to them in the first leg, after which the Gunners manager did not shake his hand.

Wenger accepted Arsenal had just left themselves too much to do after their “suicidal” defending in London.

“I felt the performance was enough tonight, but it was a very difficult task,” he said.

“If you look at the numbers, we had a 98 per cent chance to be out, but we did fight and produce the game we wanted.

“At half-time, the game could have been over with the chances we created, overall we pay (for the fact) that in the first game we did not produce the performance we wanted.

“Monaco played at home, have zero shots on target and yet go to the quarter-final.”

Wenger added: “Football is not a fairytale, it is a matter of being realistic and being clinical, maybe a bit lucky as well, maybe that is part of the game.

“If you take a look at the shots on target in the two games, they were well rewarded, and were very clinical.

“They really surprised us in the first leg when we were too sure of ourselves on the night.”

Wenger was left less than impressed by the performance of Norwegian referee Svein Oddvar Moen, who had shown a yellow card to Sanchez in the first half for what he saw as a dive in the penalty area.

The Arsenal boss, who remonstrated with the officials as they walked off for the interval, said: “I felt the referee had a very poor first half personally. I just told him that I was not happy with some decisions.”

Despite their European disappointments, Wenger insists all is not yet lost for Arsenal, who will face Reading in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and could yet have a late say in the Barclays Premier League title race.

“I am realistic enough to know every season is different. Judge our season at the end of the season,” said Wenger, the former Monaco boss on his first return to the club he led to the French title in 1988.

“Tonight I don’t believe we had a disappointing performance, it was a positive performance and you can take that into the end of the season.”

Monaco coach Jardim, meanwhile, had no issue with choosing to head off down the tunnel rather than exchange post-match pleasantries with Wenger, having been snubbed after the tie at the Emirates.

“In the first leg, when I wanted to shake his hand, he did not thank me, so this time even though Arsenal did everything possible to go through, I chose not to thank him,” the Portuguese coach said.

“I think so (that was disrespectful) and right now we are celebrating and think that Arsenal may be did not show all the respect that they should have during the first leg.”

Jardim, whose side had been viewed as one of the weaker seeds for the knock-out stages despite their formidable defensive record, felt his team were worthy of progress.

“I think it is deserved the qualification, we managed to take advantage of the first leg when we won 3-1,” he said.

“The second leg was the match that we expected, it was very intense, the opponents took advantage of the mistakes we made in the transition, which is how they scored their goals.”

Published: Wednesday 18th March 2015 by The News Editor

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