Central defender Kolo Touré stood back from Arsenal FC's low-key display at the Estádio do Dragão and chose to focus on the group-winning performance and progress to the UEFA Champions League first knockout round rather than the 0-0 draw with FC Porto.
Touré is a footballing pragmatist, as many defenders are, and believes that emerging top of Group G after dropping four points out of six against PFC CSKA Moskva is an achievement which renders being outplayed in Porto irrelevant. "We have totally merited winning the group and I think it is a big achievement," said the Ivorian. "We should have scored quite a few goals against CSKA yet we lost 1-0 and drew 0-0 - it was very unusual.
"Yet here we are in the last 16 and on top of the group. That might look normal given that we are Arsenal and played in the final last season, but I think we have done it on pure merit." Touré tacitly admitted that coping with Porto had been a tough job, adding: "It was totally on our minds that all we needed was a draw from this match and I think that we managed the game really intelligently. None of us had any idea of how the other game in Hamburg was proceeding and that's because we needed all our focus on coping with Porto."
Porto's Brazilian central defender Pepe, who played all 540 minutes of their Group G campaign, begged to differ. "I think we deserve all the praise here," said the 23-year-old. "Porto gave everything we had to win the match and finish top of the group and that's not just because we wanted it or the coach asked for it but because our fans give us massive loyalty and demanded that kind of performance.
"Arsenal are a great team and have earned respect but I think the balance of the game shows that we were simply unlucky not to win," he added. "We are working extremely hard on a daily basis and I think we demonstrated our form in this match. Never mind what the Champions League draw brings us, our goal now is to continue working this hard and that means you never know how far we could go in this competition."
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