BRAGA (2) vs ARSENAL (0)
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger branded Uefa’s multi-official system “useless” after seeing his side slip to a second successive defeat.
Hungarian referee Viktor Kassa failed to spot Alberto Rodriguez’s trip on substitute Carlos Vela before Braga scored two late goals on the break. The Portuguese side, now level on points with Arsenal, will qualify for the knockout stages should they register a better result than Wenger’s charges in the final round of group fixtures in a fortnight’s time.
That scenario could have been avoided had Kassa, or his assistant behind the goal, spotted what appeared a blatant foul on Mexico striker Vela, who was cautioned for simulation, and Wenger was in far from forgiving mood.
He said: “The turning point was the penalty – I still cannot understand how Carlos Vela got a yellow card. It remains a complete mystery. The referee had some surprising decisions.
“We are going through a period where we have bad luck, we had had the penalty turned down.
“What was the fifth official doing? We have another proof that it is absolutely useless, this system.
“Then when we were 10 against 11, we made a mistake at the back, there was a minimum of communication and that’s where we were punished.”
Braga were hammered 6-0 at Emirates Stadium back in September and had clearly learned their lesson. Instead of trying to match Arsenal for adventure and ambition, they played a cautious game, which bordered on the cynical at times, and succeeded in limiting their more illustrious opponents, who made seven changes from Saturday, to a handful of chances before Matheus’ late double.
Wenger, who saw Cesc Fabregas limp off with a recurrence of his hamstring strain, was far from impressed by Braga’s gameplan.
“We played against a team who refused to play and tried to catch us on the counter attack. They used every single trick in the book to slow the game down,” Wenger lamented. “Everybody is free to play the way they like, and they won.”
Arsenal face group whipping boys Partizan Belgrade at home in their final fixture and a win would render a Braga victory in Donetsk irrelevant.
“It is hard to swallow, but now we have to win our last game,” said Wenger (right). “The most important thing for us now is to qualify.”