Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lavished praised on hisplayers after they knocked out Real Madrid to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

Speaking after the goalless draw at Highbury gave Arsenal a 1-0 aggregate win, Wenger said: “To play two games against Real and not concede a goal shows remarkable spirit.

“Something is happening with this team. They are gelling together. They have shown character, and that is very good.

“I feel we have grown as a team during these last two months.”

Wenger singled out goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, who produced several crucial saves to deny Real.

“One or two times we were lucky – and we needed that great save from Lehmann. The save was very important.”

Wenger admitted he was surprised to be the last Premiership outfit left in the competition.

“I thought Liverpool would win but Benfica have now knocked out Liverpool and Manchester United and so they must have something,” he added.

“We have shown character and solidarity and always maintained the basic values of our club.

“I feel sometimes this season we have been kicked off the park without protection, maybe because we were a bit young and we couldn’t face up to that.

“We tried to be faithful and sometimes we even looked naive because we tried to play football but I prefer that type of game, the type we have seen

“They went at it, and so did we.

“Everybody wanted to score when they got the ball, and it was a great football game. Both teams tried to attack every time they could.”

Arsenal captain Thierry Henry added: “We are going through maybe not in the Arsenal way – but we are through.

“It was a proper game. It had everything, a bit of tension at the end. It was not a boring 0-0.

“We didn’t concede a goal home or away against Real Madrid – that is something special.”

Madrid’s coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro was gracious in defeat.

“I think the result is fair,” he said.

“It’s true when you look over the two matches they’ve been superior. We had many chances over both legs and we should have scored but we were not clinical enough.”

Real’s David Beckham but praised Arsenal’s performance in his first club game in his home country since leaving Manchester United.

He said: “It is disappointing going out at any stage of a competition.

“It is the first time I have come back to London, and I wanted it to be a happy occasion – but it was not to be.

“Always big questions are asked when a club as big as ours has not won anything for one season, never mind three.

“Not winning anything again looks like it might happen now – big questions will be asked.

“Arsenal defended as we expected. We expected to maybe score a few goals. We wanted a few and could not get them. But overall I wish them luck – they are a good team.”

Subscribe to World Soccer – The essential football magazine.