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Eduardo defended over dive claims

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Wenger admitted Arsenal were fortunate to win a penalty

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has refused to condemn Eduardo after the striker was accused of diving in the Champions League win over Celtic at the Emirates.

There appeared to be no contact between Eduardo and Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc and referee Manuel Gonzalez gave a penalty that Eduardo converted.

Following the 3-1 win, Wenger said: "I do not go as far to say Eduardo dived.

"He went down, for what reason I do not know. Having seen it again on television, it doesn't look a penalty."

The Gunners boss added: "I believe really that it was not a penalty but I am also not sure that the keeper didn't touch him with his right knee, having seen it again.

"I do not think he (Eduardo) would have complained if the penalty was not given.

"Is it acceptable? I never asked in my life any guy to dive to win a penalty but sometimes the players go down because there is no other way to escape the tackling of the keeper. Sometimes they dive."

Wenger attempted to shrug off controversy by claiming that the Gunners were the dominant side as they booked their place in the group stages of the competition.

"I must still say that we were likely always to score the first goal because Eduardo had a great chance before the penalty," he said. "We always looked in control of the game."

He also felt Arsenal had been the victims of dodgy penalty decisions in the past, recalling an incident in the Champions League defeat against Liverpool in 2008.

"We got a penalty two years ago in the quarter-final of the Champions League at Liverpool that made the difference when Ryan Babel dived," said the Frenchman.

"Nobody ever apologised to us. It was a blatant dive and nobody spoke about it."


Celtic manager Tony Mowbray admitted that the penalty was not a key factor in the overall result.

"The referee has given it. But, if the TV pictures show it should not have been given, so be it," he said.

"Over the two legs, Arsenal had more quality and deserved to go through."

The result and performance against Celtic delighted Wenger, who felt it was the perfect preparation for Saturday's Premier League trip to Manchester United.

"We are now in the top, top league in Europe, with all the big names," he said. "Our team here was an average age of 23.9 years. That means if we can get out of the group stage, then in six months we can be even stronger.

"That is what we want to focus on, to continue to improve our team play, the speed of our game and show that we have made big improvements come Saturday. I am happy to go to Old Trafford because it is the first big, big test.

"You want always to have a high level of confidence when you go to Old Trafford, we have that at the moment. For us, it is most important to recover physically because Manchester United did not play in the League Cup tonight."

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see also
Celtic boss refuses to blame ref
26 Aug 09 |  Celtic
British clubs avoid Euro giants
27 Aug 09 |  Europe
Arsenal 3-1 Celtic (agg 5-1)
26 Aug 09 |  Europe
Wednesday's football photos
26 Aug 09 |  Football
Wednesday football as it happened
26 Aug 09 |  Football
Celtic 0-2 Arsenal
18 Aug 09 |  Europe

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