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Thursday 22 August 2013

Champions League: Wenger hails 'resolute' Arsenal victory

Frenchman praises Gunners' mental strength as they edge closer to Champions League group stage

  • Arsenal's Jack Wilshere takes a shot at goal during the Gunners' 3-0 win at Fenerbahce

  • Aaron Ramsey (second form right) celebrates his goal in Istanbul

  • Olivier Giroud makes it 3-0 from the penalty spot

  • Wojciech Szczesny and Carl Jenkinson celebrate their first-leg success

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised the mental fortitude of his side after they secured a convincing 3-0 victory at Fenerbahce in their UEFA Champions League play-off first leg.

"We did not come in shaking, but came in resolute and determined and with a desire to take the game to them"
Arsene Wenger

The Gunners bounced back from their opening Barclays Premier League home defeat by Aston Villa on Saturday with a convincing display in Turkey thanks to second-half goals by Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, and Wenger was delighted with his side's performance in the intimidating atmosphere of the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium.

"It was of course the environment we faced was difficult but the only way to do it is to go out there and play football like you want to play," Wenger told the press afterwards. "This team has shown a lot of mental strength. I told you that you had forgotten that this team has lost only one game since March under very, very special circumstance.

"I believe we played in a very, very heated atmosphere against a good team, but we had a proactive attitude from the first minute on, and that was certainly was very important. We did not come in shaking, but came in resolute and determined and with a desire to take the game to them and overall we were in control."

Arsenal dominated the first half without creating any clear-cut chances and lost Laurent Koscielny to a head injury in the 33rd minute following a high boot from Pierre Webo, which left the France international requiring hospital treatment.

However, the Gunners took the lead early in the second half when Gibbs converted Theo Walcott's low cross from close range, and went 2-0 up 13 minutes later when the impressive Ramsey beat Volkan Demirel from 20 yards.

The hosts struggled to contend with Walcott's pace throughout and when the England forward was upended by Michal Kadlec on 77 minutes, Giroud scored with an emphatic penalty to take Arsenal to the brink of their 16th consecutive appearance in the group stage of Europe's elite club competition.

The Londoners host the Turkish Super Lig side in the second leg at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

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Key Points

  • Arsenal seal 3-0 UEFA Champions League play-off first-leg win at Fenerbahce
  • Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud on target in second half
  • Wenger praises 'resolute' Gunners display in 'heated' atmosphere in Istanbul