WENGER: Mental strength was key in victorious penalty shoot-out
Jubilant Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his team s mental strength was a key factor in their 7-6 shoot-out win at Roma on Wednesday night. The Gunners progressed to the Champions League quarter-final for the second successive season after losing 1-0 o
Jubilant Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his team's mental strength was a key factor in their 7-6 shoot-out win at Roma on Wednesday night.
The Gunners progressed to the Champions League quarter-final for the second successive season after losing 1-0 on the night, when Roma's Brazilian defender Juan took advantage of a William Gallas error to score after just ten minutes.
His goal had cancelled out Arsenal's one-goal advantage from the first leg two weeks ago.
Former Gunner Julian Baptista spurned a gilt-edged chance to add a second for the Serie A side inside 90 minutes as Arsenal looked jaded for much of the tie.
The visitors perked up as the game wore on and Kolo Toure nearly levelled in extra time when his header flashed just over the Roma bar.
Eduardo's spot-kick - the first of shoot-out - was saved by Roma goalkeeper Cristiano Doni, before the outstanding Mirko Vucinic and Max Tonetto both missed their penalties to send the Gunners through on a tense night in the Italian capital.
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"After missing the cross to concede the goal and missing the first penalty, we needed something special to come back and win," Wenger said before the flight back to Luton.
"I'm very proud of our mental strength because that's a quality that has been questioned in our team, but you can see we've improved tremendously on that front.
"I was a bit concerned that if we were the only English team to go out, it'd halt the team's progress. This kind of result can increase self believe for the rest of the season.
"England can be very proud to have four teams in the quarter-finals again."
Luciano Spalletti, Roma's coach, added: "We have to be proud of what we've done, while knowing that we can still improve."
The draw for the quarter final stage, which also includes Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Villarreal and Porto, will be made in Nyon on Friday March 20.
L An Arsenal fan was stabbed in the leg, and two others suffered head injuries, before Wednesday's match.
The stab victim was attacked after Roma fans boarded a bus taking Arsenal supporters to the Stadio Olimpico. None of the injuries are life-threatening.
"Arsenal Football Club and the Metropolitan Police deplore the incident as the safety of our supporters is the highest priority," said an Arsenal spokeswoman.