Arsene Wenger said Arsenal produced the fight he expected but lamented that “football is not a fairy tale” after his team fell out of the Champions League on away goals on Tuesday.
The Gunners came within one goal of pulling off a remarkable comeback after a 3-1 first-leg defeat at their Emirates Stadium home, with Arsenal winning the second tie 2-0 to draw the scores level.
Yet the errors made in a lacklustre first leg performances proved to be fatal for an Arsenal side who went out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage for a fifth successive season.
No team have come from two goals down to win a Champions League knock-out tie in the away leg, but Wenger said his Arsenal players performed the way he expected.
“If you look at the numbers, we had a 98 percent chance to be out, but we did fight and produce the game we wanted,” Wenger said in his news conference.
“I felt that some players were a bit jaded offensively because we have given a lot on Saturday and in the second half lacked a bit of freshness to finish the game off.
“Football is not a fairy tale. It is a matter of being realistic and being clinical, maybe a bit lucky as well, maybe that is part of the game. If you go out after the group stages, you have no chances after to play again, like you do in the Europa League.”
When asked whether this was Arsenal’s most disappointing Champions League exit in recent seasons, Wenger opted to try and find silver linings after another night of disappointment.
“It is difficult to compare the years, because the season before, we played against Barcelona and Munich,” he said. “We are very disappointed to have gone out tonight, but overall we are on a positive trend. This game was on line with what we did recently.”
Wenger rejected a suggestion from his captain Per Mertesacker that Monaco deserved to go through to the Champions League quarterfinals, offering this swift rebuttal: “Don’t let the disappointment talk too much. I don’t believe that.
“If you look at the shots on target Monaco had over the two legs, the team that made the less mistakes defensively went through.”
Ultimately, Arsenal’s poor showing in the first leg decided the game, even though they had 17 attempts on the Monaco goal in the second leg — seven on target — and many of those could and should have been finished off.
“We produced the performance we wanted and overall at half-time, the game should have been over,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “We had five clear cut chances and I think as well we were unlucky with some refereeing decisions in the first half.
“Monaco had no shot on target at all and played in one half. They defended well and until the end, it was a very tight game. The players are on a good run, but our concentration level was not right in the first game.”