Pat Rice was encouraged by the performance of his Arsenal charges last night, as the Gunners notched a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Olympiacos in Group F of the Champions League.

A debut European goal had given the home side the lead, before Andre Santos netted his first for the north London club following his summer move for Fenerbache.

And Rice, who was managing the side in place of Arsene Wenger as he served out his UEFA suspension, said that the side ‘knuckled down’ to seal a win and get closer to the final 16 in the European competition.




“I think in the first 20-25 minutes we were really in it well,” Rice said.

“After that for about 15-20 minutes we maybe lost our way and they came back into it. Second half we had to knuckle down, fight and get our shape right which I thought we did better in the second half.

“It is unfortunate we didn't get the third but we also had opportunities on breakaways in the second half.

“They came, they waited for us, they broke us up in the middle of the park and in fairness they did well. You can't turn around and say we had all of the game because that would be unfair.

“Needless to say I think we will be very, very happy with the three points.”

Marouane Chamakh was chosen to start ahead of club captain Robin van Persie last night, and Rice explained that this was because Wenger wanted to build up more game experience for the 27-year-old as he continues to improve for Arsenal.

He added: “Robin's been playing a lot of games lately and it was just a question of Chamakh needing games.

“We just thought that we would give him a go. You can't say that Marouane didn't try. If he had a little bit more luck he perhaps might have scored a third goal. But you cannot fault him for his work ethic.”

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