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 Almunia: Tie not over

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Posts : 28
Join date : 2009-04-24
Age : 35
Location : Singapore

PostSubject: Almunia: Tie not over   Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:48 am

Manuel Almunia maintains Arsenal are still very much in their Champions League semi-final against Manchester United after the goalkeeper's heroics helped his side leave Old Trafford trailing by just one goal.

John O'Shea's close-range strike in the 17th minute was all the defending champions had to show for their efforts on a night when Almunia was in inspired form.

The Arsenal goalkeeper had set the tone for the night with a fine reaction save to deny Wayne Rooney in the opening moments, before also denying Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo.

When Almunia was beaten by Ronaldo's blistering 25-yard strike midway through the second half, the ball struck the crossbar.

Arsene Wenger's squad may have only shown their potential in patches last night, but Almunia maintains the fact the tie is not already over means they still have every chance to reach the final when the teams do battle again at Emirates Stadium next Tuesday night.

Almunia said: "1-0 in this stadium is not that bad a result because there are not that many teams who play here and go away with a clean sheet.

"We expected them to start with a high tempo, but in the second half we showed that if Arsenal can keep the ball, then we can beat them.

"We have to be more or less happy and look forward to the second leg at the Emirates.

"It is our last chance to do something this year, so we will try to put all of the pressure on Manchester United and the fans will help as well."

Wenger knows he has Almunia to thank for the fact Arsenal remain alive in the competition.

"Manuel Almunia was excellent," the Arsenal manager said.

"It was a top-class performance from him. His reading of the game was fantastic and his sharpness was superb."

Wenger remains optimistic his men will produce a much better performance for the second leg.

"There is a final at stake and I am confident you will see a different Arsenal team next week," he said.

"Things like that happen in football. At home I believe we can do it."

Wenger, who has pledged to field his strongest side at Portsmouth in Saturday's Barclays Premier League game as they aim to catch third-placed Chelsea, added: "Manchester United started stronger than us, but the positive is that we only lost 1-0.

"They could have scored the second. That kept us in the tie and we want to take advantage of that.

"We were not dangerous enough offensively, not sharp enough in the final third. That meant United could play the way they love to play, on the counter-attack, and that was a clear advantage for them.

"We did not create enough, but it is more important to think about what we want to do next Tuesday."
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