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Arsenal FC manager Arsène Wenger praised the courage of his side's footballing convictions after the Gunners came from behind to beat Udinese Calcio 2-1 in sweltering conditions in northern Italy. There was also praise for the big-match temperament of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny, who proved his mettle as someone "who can deal with the pressure" by saving Antonio Di Natale' second-half penalty.
Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager
We showed belief in the way want to play football, we kept our focus on the way we wanted to play, and we slowly made the difference in the game. The second half was all us and when you are 1-0 down away from home in such an important game it is difficult to come back from, but we have done that in a positive way.
Wojciech [Szczęsny] is improving from game to game. He is the kind of personality who can deal with pressure and he showed that again. We have given a lot tonight; it was very, very, hot and we have played many games in the first two weeks but this win will give us a lot of confidence.
Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal defender
Being positive at half-time was really important; the spirit was still high and you could see from the way we played in the second half. I'm really happy that we have a great goalkeeper; he made a great save with that penalty, He is playing really well. Mentally we were very strong, it's not easy when you are 1-0 down but you could see how the team responded in the dressing room. It's a big boost: We qualified for the Champions League and that's what we wanted, that's where Arsenal belong.
Robin van Persie, Arsenal forward
If you look at the age of some of our guys, what they did in the second half is very promising – I'm pleased with their commitment. Sometimes people question our mental strength but if you look at tonight's performance it's the opposite. Now it's up to us to do the same over and over again. We were dancing and having fun in the dressing room. I think it's good even if it's just the start of what we hope will be a big season.
Carl Jenkinson, Arsenal defender
Udinese are a very good side. Fortunately we have a fantastic goalkeeper, good in all situations; it's great for us. We got the win we needed and now we are in the Champions League, where we should be. Tonight showed how together we are; we had some tricky times but we all stuck together and got the result. I have always dreamed of playing in the Champions League; now we are there. I'm absolutely delighted.
Francesco Guidolin, Udinese coach
We go out with our heads held high. We lost to opponents who are better than us, but for three-quarters of the 180 minutes we matched them and had the same chance of going through. We weren't very lucky, but that's part and parcel of football, and I don't like to look for excuses.
Our dream ended tonight, that's the truth, but our supporters gave us a long applause, which means that we played our part.
It's just as well that someone told us that Arsenal weren't the hardest team we could have drawn. Whoever said that was wrong, even though the match could have taken a different turn had Di Natale scored the penalty. I wish Arsenal well in the Champions League, while for us a new campaign beckons in the Europa League and that's no small thing.
Mehdi Benatia, Udinese defender
We played well but when you face a great team like Arsenal you have to be more cautious about allowing them to counterattack. We conceded two goals in that manner and it became very difficult for us, almost impossible. We have to learn from this mistake. [Antonio] Di Natale missed a penalty but he also did several good things for the team – even great champions miss penalties.
Samir Handanovič, Udinese goalkeeper
I think we played well in the first leg and again today for 65 minutes. We slowed down only after missing that penalty, it happens. Sometimes you just have to give credit to your opponent. They are strong and tonight they showed it. I think our main regret is failing to score in the first leg when we created many opportunities because an away goal is very important.
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