Wenger hurt by Arsenal exit but proud of team’s spirit

2013-03-14 08:59

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Munich – Arsenal will end an eighth consecutive season without silverware after their Champions League exit by Bayern Munich, leaving manager Arsene Wenger to rue a home first-leg defeat after his side almost pulled off an improbable comeback.

The Premier League side, trophyless since their 2005 FA Cup triumph, were written off after a 3-1 defeat in London by the slick Bavarians.

But rather than roll over in Germany, Arsenal stunned nervy Bayern last night with Olivier Giroud's early goal at their Allianz Arena fortress and after Laurent Koscielny headed a second with four minutes left, Bayern were forced to cling on to reach the last eight.

“I believe we were very, very close,” Wenger told Sky Sports.

“The spirit and the performance was there and we had a great go. The overall defensive performance was very good. They defended very very well and we lost some balls offensively in situations.

“It was frustrating sometimes but I put that down to the fact that they defended well and when we got the second goal, you could see that if we had put some more balls in the box we would have score another goal.”

No team in the Champions League has recovered to qualify after losing the first leg at home by a two-goal margin and Arsenal were knocked out in the last 16 for the third season in a row.

Wenger pointed to Bayern's late third goal at The Emirates last month, scored in the 77th minute by Mario Mandzukic, as the hammer blow.

“The regrets we have tonight of course is from the first leg when you think that we conceded a cheap goal. Had we lost 2-1 at home you see how important that goal was tonight,” he said.

Arsenal were without influential Jack Wilshere, Lukas Podolski and Bacary Sagna and keeper Wojciech Szczesny was rested yesterday but Wenger took pride from his side’s display in defeating last season's beaten finalists.

“I know these players. I have said many times they have a fantastic attitude and spirit and we have the quality. But unfortunately we have to go out of the Champions League and it hurts very much.”

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