Arsenal 3 Milan 0: Wenger ‘proud’ as Gunners bow out of Europe
Arsene Wenger was full of praise for Arsenal's valiant display as they bowed out of Europe with their heads held high
Arsene Wenger admitted his pride at Arsenal’s brave but ultimately fruitless performance as the Gunners were knocked out of the Champions League by AC Milan on Tuesday.
The Londoners had it all to do after their 4-0 demolition at the San Siro in the first leg but got off to the perfect start when Laurent Koscielny headed home from a corner after just seven minutes.
Tomas Rosicky then doubled the Gunners’ advantage midway through the half, before Robin van Persie added a third from the spot before the break to cap a brilliant opening 45 minutes from Wenger’s men.
But the Gunners’ high-tempo first-half display appeared to take its toll after the break as AC Milan found a foothold in the game.
Van Persie squandered the home side’s best second-half opening when he tried to lift his shot over Christian Abbiati early on – but the Milan goalkeeper managed to collect the ball.
The Serie A side rode out the rest of the second half with relative ease – and Wenger admits Arsenal were drained by their energetic opening.
“We can only be proud of our performance,” said Wenger afterwards. “We were short – we had no midfielders at all on the bench and we suffered a little bit when we got tired in the second half.
“We put the performance in with a fantastic spirit and restored some pride after the first leg. Unfortunately we go out but we had the chances.
“Overall, we keep our winning run going – that is important – but unfortunately we pay the price for having a bad first game.”
Wenger reserved particular praise for his back-four, who managed to keep the likes of Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimović at bay.
“I felt our defenders were absolutely outstanding today and overall we have given everything,” he continued. “[When] you give everything, afterwards you can accept the result, even if it’s a disappointing one.”
Reflecting on Van Persie’s opportunity to net a crucial fourth early in the second half, Wenger added: “He wanted to chip the keeper because he was down, but he got up very quickly and read it well and unfortunately we couldn’t score.
“I hoped that in the last 10-15 minutes we could create some dangerous situations in front of goal. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, we didn’t have enough drive any more.”