Wenger’s Europa League heartache: ‘The suffering is strong’

Wolves beat Torino in Europa League play-off first leg

Arsene Wenger admitted he was left bitterly disappointed after Arsenal’s hopes of reaching the Europa League final were dashed by Thursday’s defeat at Atletico Madrid.

The outgoing Gunners boss would have dearly loved to go out on a high at the Emirates, and was hopeful his side could win the Europa League and secure Champions League qualification.

Sadly, there was no fairy tale ending for Wenger.

Diego Costa scored the only goal of the second leg to take Atletico through to their third final in eight years.

“It can be very cruel, I am very sad tonight,” said Wenger after the match.

While a 1-0 loss in Spain is no disgrace, Wenger will no doubt be haunted by Arsenal’s failure to capitalise on their one-man advantage in the first leg, allowing Atletico to score late and salvage a draw despite only playing with 10 men.

“We didn’t manage the important moments of either game well,” said Wenger.

“We were 1-0 up with 10 minutes to go at home, and then we conceded a stupid goal. Tonight we looked OK and then conceded on the counter attack.

“Atletico played with fear in the first half that if we score they could be out, but once they scored they played with a cushion.”

Wenger admitted the tie should have been over after the first leg and that his side was lacking quality in the final third.

“When you go out of a competition and you have the performances we have had over 180 minutes it is hard to take.

Arsene Wenger Arsenal

“There are some good ingredients in our team. They will bounce back.”

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin echoed Wenger’s sadness and disappointment.

“We played with out heart, [but] it was not meant to be,” said the Spaniard.

“We wanted to do it for the boss and to try for him to finish on the top. That adds more disappointment.”