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Wenger slams Robben as Arsenal exits Europe

Updated: 2014-03-13 08:29
By Agence France-Presse in Munich, Germany ( China Daily)

Defending champion advances thanks to gritty draw at home

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger blamed Wojciech Szczesny's first-leg red card for the Gunners' Champions League last-16 exit and slammed Arjen Robben for provoking the red card as the Gunners bowed out at Bayern Munich.

Holder Bayern Munich booked its place in the Champions League's quarterfinals, despite Arsenal earning a 1-1 draw in Bavaria in Tuesday's last 16, second-leg clash.

A second-half Bastian Schweinsteiger goal gave Bayern a brief lead before Arsenal's Lukas Podolski equalized with a thunderbolt of a shot as the tie finished 3-1 on aggregate.

Arsenal failed to overturn its 2-0 deficit from the first leg three weeks ago, which still riles Wenger.

The Gunners finished with 10 men in London after Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli sent off Gunners goalkeeper Szczesny for conceding a spot kick with a foul on Robben.

"Overall in the two games what made the difference was the decision to send our goalkeeper off," said Wenger.

"I felt it was not a red card - as simple as that.

"Robben is very good at getting something out of nothing, he is a good diver, but that is part of his game.

"I have to congratulate the (Arsenal) players for their heart and effort.

"We wanted to come out of that tie qualified, but we came up short.

"Good luck to Bayern, but I think they are a bit more vulnerable than last season."

Robben angrily rebuked Wenger's diving claims.

"I expect more of great managers, they don't need to resort to claims like that," said the Dutch winger.

"I don't want to have to defend myself against remarks like that."

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, who failed to convert a crucial penalty in the first leg, endured another miserable night in Munich.

The Germany attacking midfielder came off at half-time with hamstring trouble and made way for Tomas Rosicky.

"Ozil has a hamstring injury and it looks quite serious," said Wenger.

"He will miss (Sunday's) Tottenham game for sure, he needs a scan. He is out for at least a few weeks."

Holder Bayern marches on to the quarterfinals, but will be without Brazil defender Dante, who picked up his third yellow card in Europe and is now suspended for the first leg.

Bayern boss Pep Guardiola was pleased his side restricted Arsenal's scoring chances - only an Olivier Giroud header and Podolski's thunderbolt truly troubled the host's defense.

Beckenbauer unhappy

But Bayern's honorary president, Franz Beckenbauer, criticized the holder for a lack of creativity.

"In the end, it will be like Barca: unwatchable. They will pass the ball back even on the goal line," said the former West Germany World Cup winning captain and coach.

Wenger slams Robben as Arsenal exits Europe

But Guardiola, whose side is looking to go 50 Bundesliga games unbeaten against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, had a different take.

"We were able to minimize our errors, we played intelligently and at a very high level, I am very satisfied," said the Spaniard.

"Arsenal had a chance in the first half, but we wanted to control the game and we succeeded.

"Apart from the goal, which might have been whistled as a foul, but nothing happened."

Podolski shoved Bayern captain Philipp Lahm off the ball before his second-half equalizer, but the Germany star said his challenge was legitimate.

"The ref didn't blow his whistle, so the matter is closed," said Podolski.

"We can discuss these little aspects over and over again, but at the end of the day, we are out.

"It is always difficult coming back from 2-0 down against one of the best teams in the world.

"Their second goal in the first leg killed us a bit.

"We are out and now we need to focus on the Premier League and Cup."

(China Daily 03/13/2014 page23)