Cesc Fàbregas may be dismayed by the defensive lapses that consigned Arsenal FC to a 2-1 loss at FC Porto, but the Gunners captain remains "confident" he and his team-mates will finish the first knockout round tie celebrating a UEFA Champions League quarter-final berth.
The manner of their defeat on Wednesday dominated the post-match debates and it was easy to understand why. Neither side looked particularly potent at the Estádio do Dragão, yet the more costly errors belonged to the visitors, who capped a shaky opening when stand-in goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański helped Silvestre Varela's cross into his own net. The Polish custodian was involved in Porto's winner as well, gathering a back pass from Sol Campbell and conceding an indirect free-kick from which the quick-thinking Falcao was able to score.
In between those strikes, Campbell headed in a leveller which could yet prove crucial when the teams reconvene in the English capital on 9 March – even if it recalled his contribution to a losing cause in his previous UEFA Champions League outing, the 2006 final against FC Barcelona.
Fàbregas, 22, certainly believes the decisive moments in this contest will come from Arsène Wenger's men. "It's true we weren't able to win and it's going to be hard for us in the second leg, but I'm still confident we'll prevail in the end," he said. "The return match is going to be difficult for both teams. We'll just have to see who's strongest on the night."
History would appear to favour the Premier League club, given that Porto have lost 11 of their 13 trips to England, drawing the other two. Both their away meetings with Arsenal have ended unhappily too, with their most recent sortie in London producing a comfortable 4-0 triumph for the hosts in September 2008.
Fàbregas nonetheless expressed concern about his side's fragility at the back, urging his colleagues not to repeat the same mistakes in the second leg. "We knew Porto had a very quick and talented team, but the truth is we allowed them to score two very easy goals," explained the Spanish international. "You just can't let that happen at this level. Now we're 2-1 down and we're going to have to fight our way back."
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.