SK Slavia Praha's Mickaël Tavares told uefa.com the Czech side's valiant goalless draw with Arsenal FC on Wednesday was inspired by the raw memories of the humiliation they suffered in London two weeks ago.
'Come back stronger'
"It sounds strange but I think the result of the first game helped us enormously," said the French midfielder, who was part of the side thrashed 7-0 by the Gunners on Matchday 3. "We owed it to ourselves, the club and the country to get a good result after such a poor match. It was extremely difficult to pick ourselves up, but sometimes it's good to take a real beating to then come back stronger."
Karel Jarolím's men could even have claimed a shock victory at a rain-soaked Evžena Rošického Stadium but for Manuel Almunia. The Arsenal keeper, who was again preferred to Jens Lehmann, was called upon once in either half to deny Slavia forward Zdeněk Šenkeřík as the 1. Liga leaders threatened to bring the visitors' club record 25-match unbeaten run in all competitions to an end.
'Like a victory'
Tavares insisted, however, there was no disappointment at having failed to add a second win to their Group H record following their Matchday 1 victory over FC Steaua Bucureşti. "It's like a victory," he said. "I can't say that it's better than the win against Steaua as that was three points and this is just a point; but it is against Arsenal. They're one of the best teams in Europe, so we're delighted."
The stalemate means Arsenal have already secured one of the two qualifying berths in Group H and keeps alive Slavia's faint hopes of joining them in the first knockout round. Jarolím's team must now win their remaining games against Steaua and Sevilla FC and hope other results go their way to reach the last 16, but Tavares remains optimistic of a fairy-tale end to Slavia's maiden UEFA Champions League group stage campaign.
"Anything is possible," said Tavares, who was playing in the French second division for Tours FC a year ago. "We've got two games and we need to get two good results. But it is our first year in the competition, so I think that even a place in the UEFA Cup would be a great achievement for the club."
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