Mikel Arteta admitted defeat ‘hurt a lot’ after Arsenal crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Olympiacos.
Youssef El Arabi’s goal in the dying minutes of extra time ensured it was the Greek outfit who advanced to the last 16 on away goals following a 2-2 aggregate draw.
The Gunners struggled to get going and fell to a 2-1 defeat on the night, though Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thought he had done enough to send Arsenal through when he equalised with an overhead kick in the second period of extra time, after Pape Abou Cisse’s header took the tie into an additional 30 minutes.
It was the first time in the club’s history that they had been eliminated from Europe after leading it the tie after the away leg.
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And Arteta rued his team’s exit after insisting that the competition was considered to be a priority for him.
"It hurts a lot. We had a lot of intentions in this competition. It was very important for us. Emotionally it has been a very difficult game,” said the Spaniard.
"We tried and tried and tried, we threw everything at them. They defended very deep. We managed to score though and we were through but then we conceded a late corner and it was another set piece.
"To attack against 10 players is a very difficult thing. I felt we created enough chances to win the game comfortably. It didn't happen but we had to manage the game much better in the final five minutes."
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Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown blasted Gunners stars for their lack of professionalism throughout the second leg.
"It was the first time I felt that the players were not responding to the manager and the manager did not know what changes to make,” he said on BT Sport after the game.
“There is so many disappointments in that Arsenal performance. There were so many unprofessional performances from players. Such a poor game for Arsenal.
"If you break down the performance you could have looked at every single player and say that they could have all done more.
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“Pepe is going to have to improve. Martinelli should have come on a lot earlier. Xhaka was taking the easy way out. A lot of players were not playing their best.”
Asked whether he thought his team were too complacent going into the game, Arteta replied: "I don't think so. The players knew it would be a difficult game. It is cruel. It is a massive disappointment but at the same time I am very proud of the players.
“It would have been an incredible lift if we had managed to go through the tie. The players have my backing for the way they played but it is painful."
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