Champions League – Wenger blames ref for exit

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Arsene Wenger blamed the referee and his own defence for Arsenal‘s 4-2 defeat in an astonishing Champions League quarter-final at Liverpool.

FOOTBALL 2007-2008 Arsenal - Wenger - 0

The Gunners were seven minutes away from advancing to the semi-finals on the away goals rule after scoring to take the score to 2-2 on the night, but went out 5-3 on aggregate after two late Liverpool goals.

A controversial penalty award by Swedish referee Peter Frojdfeldt for a tug on Ryan Babel by Kolo Toure saw Steven Gerrard score the crucial goal to put Liverpool 3-2 ahead with five minutes to play.

To rub salt into Wenger’s wounds, Arsenal had an identical appeal for a penalty dismissed in the first leg at the Emirates Stadium last week when Liverpool held them to a 1-1 draw in London.

“We have a feeling of disappointment and injustice. At the moment it is difficult because the whole dressing room is down,” Wenger said.

“The game is over for us. It was down to a dodgy decision, I believe, from the referee.

“Over the two games it was difficult to swallow. It was a double disappointment because all the big decisions went against us.

“We have to live with that. Sometimes you have to swallow the unswallowable. It is difficult to understand for me.

“It was never a penalty. I have watched it clearly again, but last week it was definitely a penalty.”

Wenger felt his defence played a part in Arsenal’s downfall as Sami Hyypia was allowed a free header to equalise Abou Diaby‘s opener and Fernando Torres found time to turn and score his side’s second. After Gerrard’s penalty, Babel completed the scoring with a stoppage-time fourth.

“We had so much control but we were naive and we lacked a bit defensively,” Wenger added.

“The defeat was not down to mental strength though, it was down to a lack of experience defensively.

“We made big mistakes and we conceded a goal from a corner and on the second goal we gave Fernando Torres too much room.”

Arsenal have now won just two of their last 12 games and only have the Premier League title to chase. They are six points behind leaders Manchester United with five games to play.

Wenger believes a series of poor decisions and injuries to key players have affected his side.

“The team is sick. We feel everything is going against us.

“We lacked that extra bit of confidence because week after week there is more disappointment.”