ARSENAL V/S BARCELONA
HEROIC captain Cesc Fabregas told last night how he fears he may have broken his leg after helping to haul Arsenal back from two goals down to hold hometown club Barcelona in a mesmerising Champions League quarter-final first leg.
The Gunners midfielder limped off in agony after being bundled over by Barca defender Carles Puyol and then subsequently slotting home the equalising penalty with five minutes left.
“I am not good,” said Fabregas, who left Emirates Stadium on crutches. “We have to wait for tomorrow, but I hope I can wear the Arsenal shirt again this season.
“I fear the worst, which is that I have broken something. I do not think it is going to be good news, but still I hope there will be.
“When I took the penalty, I was quite strong, but after when I went to get the ball, I could not walk any more. It is the fibula. I think I put my leg between Puyol’s when I was fouled, and kicked it.”
It was a sad end to a heroic display, which saw Fabregas lead Arsenal back into the game after Barca had run them ragged in the first half.
Despite their dominance, the Spaniards didn’t get any reward until the second half when Zlatan Ibrahimovic twice punished slack marking with exemplary finishes in the space of a quarter of an hour.
Not until the 70th minute did Arsenal respond, when outstanding substitute Theo Walcott slotted past Victor Valdes, and Fabregas salvaged glory when slotting home from the spot after Puyol was red carded for his challenge from behind.
Former Barca youth-teamer Fabregas would have missed next week’s second leg anyway through suspension, while Andrey Arshavin and William Gallas both also limped off for the Gunners – Gallas with a calf strain which could also rule him out for the season.
Barca, meanwhile, will be without Puyol and defensive partner Gerard Pique.
But despite watching his side outplayed for long periods of the game, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is adamant his team can stage a huge upset and dethrone the champions at Camp Nou next Tuesday.
“The whole team was mentally unbelievable tonight because we kept going and kept going against an opponent with class,” he said.
“We can make if difficult for them in the second leg and that we have a chance to qualify. When we won the ball back we always looked dangerous. They could have killed us off.
“But we had many chances and I believe on the counter-attacks over there we can be very dangerous.”