Football

'Lucky' Wenger glad Arsenal are still in tie

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Arsene Wenger admitted his Arsenal team were lucky still to be in the Champions League after being outplayed by Barcelona at the Emirates stadium in a swashbuckling quarter-final first leg tie.

A Theo Walcott strike and a late Cesc Fabregas penalty gave the Gunners an unlikely lifeline after two goals from Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic appeared to have wrecked Wenger's Champions League dreams.

But Fabregas will miss the return leg next Tuesday after picking up a suspension for a second yellow card as well as a suspected serious leg injury.

"We played against a great team who were dominant in the early part of the game," admitted Wenger.

"That's when we were lucky. We gave them too much room to play. But a lot of credit must go to the players who kept us in the tie."

Wenger's hopes of progressing were also hit after William Gallas limped off injured with a calf injury which could rule him out for the season while Andrey Arshavin was substituted, also with a calf problem.

Wenger, however, admitted Arsenal were fortunate to be on level terms after a match which Barcelona dominated with 22 shots to six.

He added: "They (Barcelona) are an outstanding team but most of their shots on goal were in the first part of game and at 2-0 down we had to throw everything forward."

Wenger admitted it was a gamble to play Fabregas, who passed a late fitness test and also lamented the loss of Arshavin and Gallas.

"You have to trust how the player feels and trust the medical people. He (Fabregas)said he was ready to play," said Wenger. "He has fantastic mental strength and didn't give up. The whole team were mentally unbelievable and we kept going and kept going.

"Gallas has a calf strain and will be out for a while now. I took a gamble that didn't pay off. Yes I regret that now. Arshavin has also done his calf."

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Topics:
Arsenal
Football
UEFA Champions League

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