Wenger proud but brave Arsenal exit Europe
MUNICH, Germany (AFP) –
Arsene Wenger said his Arsenal team had made him proud even as they bowed out of the Champions League on away goals after a dramatic 2-0 win at Bayern Munich in the last 16, second leg.
Having lost the first leg 3-1 in north London three weeks ago, Wenger’s side left themselves with too much to do at Bayern’s Allianz Arena, but only the third elusive goal denied the Gunners a historic win on Wednesday.
“We went close, I am very proud of the performance of the team,” said Wenger.
“I am disappointed for everyone who supports Arsenal that we couldn’t get that third goal.”
Wenger’s side became the last English club to exit the Champions League after it finished 3-3 on aggregate while Bayern sneak into Friday’s quarter-final draw.
Arsenal took the fight to their German hosts with striker Olivier Giroud giving the Gunners a third-minute lead before centre-back Laurent Koscielny netted with 86 minutes gone to set up a frantic finish.
“We can be proud of ourselves, we bow out with our heads high and we leave through the front door,” said goal-scorer Giroud.
Wenger admitted his team had left themselves with too much to do from the first leg and said the third goal they conceded three weeks ago in London — by Bayern’s Mario Mandzukic — had made all the difference.
“Qualifying is over 180 minutes and we weren’t at our best in the first 90 minutes,” said Wenger.
“We have shown we have the quality to be here, we left it too late for the third goal tonight, but we had our chances.
“The weight of the third goal we conceded (in the first leg) was massive.
“We were under pressure, a bad performance could have been terrible for the team.
“The regret I have is that there is potential in the team, yet we are out of the competition.”
Much had been made in the build-up of Arsenal’s “Mission Impossible in Munich” with the Gunners needing three goals at Bayern’s fortress-like Allianz Arena, but the guests quickly dismissed any notion this tie was already decided. Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said his team had been “given a bit of a black eye” as they reached the last eight by the narrowest of margins.
“We hadn’t reckoned on conceding an early goal and we allowed them to get into the game,” admitted the 67-year-old with his side missing suspended pair Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boateng, with France’s Franck Ribery injured.
“We didn’t control the game and weren’t calm. They gave us a bit of a black eye.
“The team didn’t play well, we were missing three players, but I have been rotating and that is no excuse for tonight.
“We couldn’t find our game, we played a good opponent who pressed us well. We lost that liveliness in our game and we didn’t move well.
“Arsenal are a top team and at this stage there are no easy opponents.”