Arsenal Through in Champions

Arsenal 0, Slavia Praha 0

November 7, 2007

LONDON (SE) - Arsene Wenger celebrated his 100th match as a manager in the Champions League by qualifying for the knock-out stages after his side played out a goalless draw at Slavia Prague on Wednesday.

Arsenal were second best throughout the match and were lucky to draw with the team they put seven past at the Emirates two weeks ago.

Wenger said: " We were solid at the back and we were good in such difficult conditions with the wind and rain.

"It is hard because they were humiliated in the first game so they made it very hard for us and battled all night.

"We can create more going forward and it was disappointing to not create so many chances as we usually do but I am happy we have qualified for the next stage so early.

"Almunia got over a difficult week and kept us in the game with a fine save which was good for his confidence.

"We are learning as a team all the time and getting better and more experienced."

Mickael Tavares headed over when he should have hit the target and the lively Zdenek Senkerik was unlucky when he cut inside and forced Manuel Almunia to tip over.

Senkerik was again denied by the impressive Almunia late on as Arsenal ensured progression.

The Gunners went into the game needing they only needed a draw to go through and boss Wenger clearly thought the job was already done by picking a much-changed line-up.

He made eight changes from the team that drew 2-2 with Manchester United on Saturday.

They played like a side with little to worry about, as they gave the ball away and looked content to let Slavia play at their own pace.

The hosts lacked the quality to punish them and more often than not their final ball let them down. Slavia's first chance came when Daniel Pudil swung over a corner and Tavares was left unmarked six yards out, the Frenchman wastefully heading over.

Lone striker Senkerik looked a threat with his pace and he accelerated sharply to cut in from the right and fire a shot goalwards but Almunia did well to tip over.

The interval brought with it a rainstorm in Prague and the game sprang to life after the break.

Senkerik fell in the box with Lassana Diarra, but referee Bertrand Layec waved Slavia's appeals away, before Nicklas Bendtner had a shot blocked by Erich Brabec.

Suddenly the tackles were flying in and the crowd were lifted as Slavia attacked sensing a famous victory in their first year in the Champions League.

Brabec latched onto a free-kick only to head straight at Almunia, before David Hubacek slammed over from nearly 30 yards. When a ball over the top caught out the Arsenal defence and sent Senkerik clean through, it seemed certain that the deadlock would be broken.

But as the striker coolly lifted the ball goalwards from 18 yards Almunia raced from his line to deny Slavia once more and put his team in the last 16.

The match was Arsenal's 26th without defeat, but the first time they failed to score this season.


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