Freddie Ljungberg praised his players for bouncing back from a two-goal deficit as goals from Alex Lacazette and Bukayo Saka snatched a 2-2 draw that secured Arsenal top spot in Europa League Group F.
The Gunners went into the game knowing they could lose by four goals and still qualify for the knockout stages, however, nerves were rattled by the consolation of two deflected goals before the 70-minute mark.
Thankfully, we recovered our composure, in the main because of two-game changing moments by Bukayo Saka, who was deployed as an auxiliary wing-back and left-back.
“I thought we played really well in our game plan in the first half and created a lot of chances and they didn’t have, I think, any shots on target,” reflected Ljungberg.
“We should have made it in one or two goals up at half-time. That’s what it felt like, at least. A bit of bad luck and we then get sucker-punched a bit.
“They then scored two deflected goals and of course there’s a lot of points to learn from before that, but they’re still two deflected goals that you can’t really smash the players for.
“But then, the reaction we had, we believed in how we played, we kept on playing and we found the pockets and we sliced them open for two fantastic goals.
“As I said to the players, away from home and – no disrespect – but there was not so much grass on the pitch and at 2-0 down you can be like ‘ugh, I’m not going to bother any more’ and fold and we didn’t.
“We actually kept going and we came back to the game and then 2-2 and maybe could’ve gone up 3-2 in the end there as well. But at the same time, like I said, I got the information about the other scores and we were trying to not go too much.”
Having taken such a young squad to Belgium, Freddie was quick to praise their character when the game threatened to get away from them.
“[They were] Tremendous,” he said. “Really proud of them. That’s what I said to them after the game, it’s a tough place to come and be 2-0 down, like you said, tremendous fans in my opinion, a great atmosphere and they showed that belief in how they can play football and their own quality.
“That shows good for us in the future, of course they need experience yes and they need to play but that heart and that fight and that belief was amazing to see from the sidelines. And maybe I should also mention the energy they do it with. They go and they go and they go and they don’t stop.”