Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger could hardly conceal his despair when he said his team lost their nerve...
Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger could hardly conceal his despair when he said his team lost their nerve, were not mentally sharp enough and got the result they deserved after losing 3-1 to AS Monaco in the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday.
Arsene Wenger, 65, who managed Monaco for seven years at the start of his coaching career, watched his former club take a grip on the tie after s win which should prove to be enough to see them reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2004.
Arsene Wenger was unusually blunt in his assessment of his side who grabbed a lifeline with a 90th-minute strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after Monaco goals from Geoffrey Kondogbia and Dimitar Berbatov.
But Arsenal FC threw it away when they allowed Monaco substitute Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco to make it 3-1 in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
“We were not at the level we were meant to be at, but conceding the third goal makes our task very difficult for the second leg,” Wenger told reporters.
“It looks like we lost our nerve and our rationality on the pitch. We were not sharp enough to get into the game and we paid for it.
“In the first 20 minutes we did do enough, maybe even to win the game, but they are very physically strong, and we missed our chances and you cannot afford that.
“I don’t think we were complacent, I hope not. On the night Monaco produced a performance and we didn’t.”
Arsenal FC had been on a good run with eight wins in their last nine matches.
“How do you explain their second and third goals? I don’t know,” Wenger said.
“We were not there mentally. We were too impatient and we played more with our heart than our brain.”
He admitted his team now face a huge task in Monaco next month.
“At 2-1 down we had a small chance, at 3-1 we have a smaller one,” he said.
Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim was delighted.
“We were very organised in the first half and that really allowed us to take advantage of the space in the second half, to counter-attack,” he said.
“We were able to nullify their threat and we attacked with a lot of quality. No-one really thought this result would have been possible — but we achieved it.”
Prince Albert of Monaco, who was at the game, could hardly contain his delight.
“I never thought I would see this scoreline here. But it’s deserved,” he told Uefa.com.
“A draw would have been great for us. Before the game I met Arsene and asked him to be kind to us. I’m sort of sad for him, for us to have stolen the show.”