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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 21:15 GMT 22:15 UK
Wenger left frustrated by defeat
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger contests a decision
Wenger felt Barcelona's equaliser from Samuel Eto'o was offside
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was left frustrated by the manner of his side's 2-1 defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League final in Paris.

Barca scored two goals in the last 15 minutes to win, and Wenger said: "The referee made a big mistake at a crucial moment - their first goal was offside.

"The way we lost is very difficult to take because we played fantastically, like we have the whole European season.

"But in the final, people only remember the team that has won."

Arsenal were reduced to 10 men when goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off for a foul on Samuel Eto'o.

But they initally made light of that setback to go 1-0 up before half-time through Sol Campbell's header.

We were quite comfortable - it was more a question of concentration
Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager

"I thought we could hang on and I knew nerves would play a part in their game as time went on," said Wenger.

"They did not look especially dangerous. I was confident because I know we can defend well against their style of passing.

"The fatigue factor was always there but they did not force us into a position where we really had to defend with their creative play.

"We were quite comfortable. It was more a question of concentration."

Wenger was adamant that his young side will be a force in Europe again next season despite missing out on the silverware this time.

"We will be back, of course," said Wenger. "I believe this team has grown a lot this season.

"We have plenty of good young players behind this team and I would like to thank them all because they have been fantastic.

We fought fantastically - it was a great achievement from the team to play 10 against 11 against a good side
Jens Lehmann
Arsenal goalkeeper

"We are already strong and sometimes if you can transform your frustration at defeat in such a game as this then you can come back stronger - and we will do that."

Jens Lehmann understood why referee Terje Hauge sent him off rather than allowing play to unfold.

"He could have given advantage to Barcelona but the referee had to make a very quick decision," said the German international.

"We have done very well and fought fantastically. It was a great achievement from the team to play 10 against 11 against a good side.

"But unfortunately I think their first goal was offside. We had a referee in the final who makes two decisions against us."

Arsenal winger Freddie Ljungberg felt his side had missed the chance to kill off Barcelona.

"When we led 1-0 they had a lot of possesion but we had some good chances to score again ourselves," said the Swede.

"We could have won it and this is hard for us.

Sol Campbell had put Arsenal ahead
Campbell celebrates putting Arsenal ahead

"They are a great side but I felt we controlled the game quite well. They had the ball out on the flanks but that is all they had.

"Unfortunately, they equalised and things got more difficult for us."

Gunners left-back Ashley Cole preferred to stay positive rather than join in the criticism of the match officials.

"We lost the game but it's not worth moaning about the offside, it's finished, we have to get on with it," he explained.

"The lads deserve credit, they've chipped in and done well as a team."

Sol Campbell added: "Losing Jens so early on was always going to cause problems, but we battled well.

"A few decisions went against us but you just have to keep going. We have done well this season, it's a shame we couldn't just finish off the game.

"We passed the ball well. Barcelona are a great team and passed it around well, too, but we had a couple of chances where if it goes our way they're dead and buried."

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17 May 06 |  Europe
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