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Arsenal can beat Barca in second leg - Arsene Wenger

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Barca could have killed us off - Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger lavished praise on Barcelona after their 2-2 draw in the Champions League, but insisted his side can still go through.

Barca outplayed Arsenal for long spells in their quarter-final first leg before two late Gunners goals gave them hope.

"We have to go for it. It would be a big achievement but we believe we can do it," said Wenger.

"Barca's display was art. It was a great football night and I don't deny we were outplayed most of the game."

In a compelling display of first-half attacking football, Barcelona simply outclassed an Arsenal side renowned for their passing and attacking ability.

Barcelona walked off for half-time having enjoyed a remarkable 71% of possession, but somehow failed to make their dominance count on the scoresheet.

The first 45 minutes was the best my team has played

Barca coach Pep Guardiola

"I have to say we played against a great team who were dominant in the early part of the game and that's where we were lucky because they had a lot of early chances," admitted Wenger.

"The way we gave the ball away today is beyond understanding. But the regret I have is, and I don't deny we played against a great side, that we conceded two cheap goals."

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic eventually broke the deadlock after half-time and struck again soon after, before Theo Walcott and Casc Fabregas - who picked up an injury, but will miss Tuesday's second leg regardless after picking up a booking - kept the quarter-final alive.

Walcott came on for Bacary Sagna after 66 minutes, and it proved a crucial substitution as the England winger's raw pace helped Arsenal gain a foothold in a game that looked to be slipping away from them.

Fabregas praises team's fighting spirit

"He had a huge impact when he came on," said Wenger, who expects Walcott to shine in the second leg on 6 April.

"He has qualities which can be useful on a big pitch like the Nou Camp. We can still qualify."

In contrast to some of Wenger's post-match outbursts in the Premier League, where he feels his side are not afforded enough protection, the Frenchman made a point of praising his opponents' approach. "It's hard but you can respect it more when you are not kicked," he said.

"It was art, it was a great football night and it was two teams who went for it, an exceptional football night."

The statistics showed that Arsenal had just 38% of the ball at the Emirates, with Barcelona having 21 shots on goal to the Gunners' five.

"We have to study how we can win the ball back. When we did that we always looked dangerous against them," said Wenger.

606: DEBATE
I-Luv-Da-Guns

Barca boss Pep Guardiola, who won La Liga and the Spanish Cup as well as the Champions League in his first season as coach, said his side's performance was their best in his reign - some praise for a team which has won accolades from all over the world for the quality of its football over the last two seasons.

"We came away from our place and played our style of football," said Guardiola. "We've done a great thing and have a great chance of qualifying for the next round.

"We are happy with this result because it is a good result when you play away, but we could have killed the game. We have to be more focused or we could go out.

"Last year, we won all the prizes but we never played away in the Champions League like today. Never, never. The first 45 minutes was the best my team has played."



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Champions League results

31 Mar 2010 23:59 UK


see also
Fabregas out for rest of season
01 Apr 10 |  Arsenal
Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona
31 Mar 10 |  Europe
Wednesday football as it happened
31 Mar 10 |  Football
Wednesday's football photos
31 Mar 10 |  Football


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