• Champions League

Wenger pledges CL return despite familiar regrets

ESPN staff
March 13, 2013
Olivier Giroud's early strike briefly raised hopes of an Arsenal comeback © PA Photos

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted he felt the pain of his side's Champions League demise against Bayern Munich, but hopes his side's heroic 2-0 second leg win in the Allianz Arena will be the catalyst for their return to Europe's elite competition next season.

After the humiliation of their 3-1 first leg defeat against Bayern at Emirates Stadium, Wenger's men threatened the most improbable of comebacks as they rocked the runaway Bundesliga leaders onto the back foot in Munich, but the defeat on away goals means Wenger will finish an eighth successive season without a trophy - and his agony was clear as he lamented his latest near miss.

"I said many times that these players have a fantastic attitude and spirit," a defiant Wenger told Sky Sports. "We have the quality, but unfortunately, we have to go out of the Champions League and that hurts.

"It is very difficult to go out of this competition, especially when you lose at home. You make it difficult for yourself. We played against one of the best teams, but we have the same regrets as last year [when Arsenal lost 4-3 on aggregate to AC Milan]. Some nerves in the first leg and after when you have no choice and have a go, we show how good we are.

"I am confident that we will give everything to be back next season in the Champions League. The players who played tonight did very well, so let's finish the season on a high."

Wenger lamented his side's failure to push for a third after Laurent Koscielny's late headed goal gave them hope of a remarkable comeback, but he took solace in the many positives on a heroic night for his much-maligned team.

"I believe we were very, very close," Wenger added. "Maybe a few times we were lucky, but in the last 20 minutes we had the chances to score.

"I think about the chance of Gervinho, I think about when [Oliver] Giroud had [the chance] to give the ball back to [Santi] Cazorla and missed. Maybe we could have done better on the set-pieces.

"But the spirit and the performance was there and the regrets we have are from the first game. We conceded a very cheap goal in the last five minutes and we could see how costly that goal was in this game.

"The clean sheet is positive, as well as the overall defensive performance. Bayern defended well, but when we got the second goal, we could see that maybe a third was coming if we could have got more balls in the box."

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