Arsène Wenger said he "was always confident we would qualify" despite Arsenal FC needing two goals in the last 17 minutes to defeat FK Partizan and make absolutely sure of progress.
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Arsenal FC manager Arsène Wenger admitted to a slight worry as his side needed two goals in the last 17 minutes to ensure a 3-1 win against FK Partizan that booked a place in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 as Group H runners-up, but said he "was always confident we would qualify". Aleksandar Stanojević's side lost all six games and he reflected on the "same old story".
Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager
I was never really nervous. Worried yes, because you cannot say you don't worry when it is 1-1. But I felt we had the resources to score and in the last 20 minutes they would drop physically. I was always confident that we would qualify but you never know. It was a bit of a low-key game because we didn't find our pace in the game. We couldn't find openings in their defence. They defended very well, they were focused on closing us down everywhere. We were just below our normal pace.
Last year we went out against Barcelona. I feel we had some room to do better because it was 2-2 at home and over there we were leading 1-0 before we lost 4-1. It depends whether you have your best players available, whether we have a good level of confidence then. It is very difficult to predict how far you can go. Now in the last 16 it becomes a different competition. It becomes a cup competition. Until now it has been a championship and now we go into a real cup mode and that means for 180 minutes you have to be at your best.
Aleksandar Stanojević, Partizan coach
It was the same old story in the Champions League, our opponents always punish our mistakes. We played to a satisfactory standard in defence and midfield, but we never made a good final ball to our forwards. We have played for glory tonight and I am satisfied, even through we lost again.
My biggest regret is the fact that we finished the competition without any points. But we gained a lot of experience and we will be better in the future. I congratulate Arsenal, from my point of view they play the best football, of course along with Barcelona.