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Wenger laments Arsenal misfortune

Published: Tuesday 21 October 2003, 22.01CET
Arsenal FC manager Arsène Wenger insisted FC Dynamo Kyiv were "lucky" to hold out for victory.
Published: Tuesday 21 October 2003, 22.01CET

Wenger laments Arsenal misfortune

Arsenal FC manager Arsène Wenger insisted FC Dynamo Kyiv were "lucky" to hold out for victory.

Arsenal FC manager Arsène Wenger called FC Dynamo Kyiv "lucky" after seeing his side hit the crossbar in the last minute to miss out on snatching a dramatic draw in the Ukrainian capital.

Touré so close
Wenger praised his players for coming back into the UEFA Champions League Group B game after going two goals down, but the Londoners could not earn a point as Kolo Touré shot against the bar with one minute left to play.

'Lucky Dynamo'
"Dynamo were lucky to see the ball stay out of the goal at the end of the game," said Wenger. "The players found strength to up the tempo and to exert pressure on the opponents in the second half. But we could only score once."

Belkevich pounced
That goal, a late strike from Thierry Henry, was Arsenal's first of the European campaign. Before then, Maksim Shatskikh had volleyed Dynamo ahead after 26 minutes, a lead which was doubled when Valentin Belkevich punished Jens Lehmann's error by rolling the ball into an empty net from 30 metres.

Early struggle
Wenger said his side struggled early on: "We lost the first period, and let them score a goal on the counterattack. I warned the players to be careful with Dynamo's quick breaks and still the mistake was made.

Birthday ruined
Wenger turns 54 on Wednesday but was not in a mood to celebrate his birthday. "As for our attack," he continued, "Dynamo were marking us quite tightly and did not allow us to receive the ball easily. But we were better in the second half. Still, at half-time I asked the players not to concede a second goal but unfortunately it happened."

Mykhailychenko joy
The result means that Arsenal have now gone eight games without a win in this competition and are three points adrift at the bottom of Group B. It was a triumph for Dynamo coach Olexiy Mykhailychenko, who was insistent that the Ukrainian side were worthy victors.

‘Perfect game-plan’
"I think we deserved the victory," he said. "The team gave their all to win the game. We battled for every ball and showed great determination. Our game-plan was fulfilled almost perfectly: the only exception was that period towards the end."

Late worries
Dynamo were left defending deep in their own area as Arsenal pushed forward in search of the second goal to earn a draw. But Mykhaylichenko felt the late introductions of substitutes Patrick Vieira, Fredrik Ljungberg and Nwankwo Kanu caused problems late on. "When their substitutes came on, the tempo went up and we were too tired to cope. But we held on."

Campbell baffled
Arsenal defender Sol Campbell was left scratching his head after the game, perplexed about his side's continued struggles in the competition. "The Premiership is going well, but in Europe we are just not cutting it at the moment," he said. "For whatever reason, we just can't put our finger on it."

Last updated: 22/10/03 1.57CET

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