Belfast Telegraph

Pep damns Arsenal with faint praise

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola praised his team for playing ‘a perfect game’ as they sent Arsenal spinning out of the Champions League.

And the Nou Camp chief admitted that Barca’s 3-1 win on the night, which gave them a 4-3 aggregate victory, was aided by the Gunners failure to hold onto what little possession they had.

It was hard enough for Arsenal with 11 men, but when Robin van Persie was sent-off with over half an hour still to go their task became impossible and they failed to register a shot on the home team’s goal throughout the 90 minutes, with their equaliser coming via Barca defender Sergio Busquets.

“Arsenal defended very, very well, but they didn't make more than three passes in succession,” said Guardiola.

“It was very difficult for us with 11 against 10 and after the situation with the second yellow, I can understand the reaction.

“We created a lot of chances, we played a perfect game.

“We're so, so happy about our performance. Over the two legs, we were better than them.”

There was more bad news to come for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger when he got to the dressing room after the game.

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was forced for leave the field with just 19 minutes gone — being replaced by Manuel Almunia — and afterwards Arsenal confirmed that the 20-year-old Polish shot-stopper had suffered a dislocated finger.

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