Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could not hide his disappointment as Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League after losing at Valencia.
Arsenal, who only needed a point to go through, looked set to join Ajax in the next round, when Thierry Henry equalized a John Carew goal. But Carew struck again to send Valencia through at Arsenal’s expense.
“It has been a disappointing night,” said Wenger.
“We did not deserve to lose the game, it has been a very hard blow for us. We are all in the same boat, the responsibility of not qualifying is for all of us.”
Wenger though was optimistic about his team’s chances on the domestic front and believes his team will bounce straight back.
“Valencia had just one chance in the first half and they scored from it. In the second half we were not able to play fluently,” said the Arsenal manager.
“After Valencia’s second goal we could not create chance. But I trust in our mental strength to recover from this defeat.”
Arsenal defender Sol Campbell, who recovered from injury in time to put in a commanding display for The Gunners, said that Arsenal’s progression in the tournament ‘just wasn’t to be’ and felt his side were unlucky to go out.
“We played well, but we were beaten by Carew,” said the Arsenal defender.
“But it just wasn’t to be.”
The game though has been overshadowed by the disgraceful treatment of Arsenal’s black players in the Mestalla stadium. Bottles were thrown onto the pitch and racial abuse was also hurled at the players.
Arsene Wenger also accused the Valencia players of gamesmanship and believes this spoiled their otherwise solid display.
“After they scored their second goal there was no game at all,” explained Wenger. “Every time we went near them we lay down. It spoiled the game because it was impossible for us to play football.”
Valencia coach Rafael Benitez was full of praise for his side after Valencia’s 2-1 win and dedicated the win to the missing players in his squad.
“I want to dedicate victory to Kily Gonzalez, Ruben Baraja and Curro Torres – our three absent players,” said Benitez.
“I said yesterday we were going to win the match, and this victory confirms our strength.”
Benitez explained thatArsenal seemed to lose their way in the second half but he praised his striker John Carew for taking his chances.
“I think Arsenal lost a bit of their usual style in the second half, playing lots of long passes,” said Benitez.
“Maybe that benefited us, but it has been a great night for Carew. He has found the prize he deserved.”