Robben "a good diver" says Wenger as Arsenal fail to turn tie around in Munich
Londoners earn 1-1 draw but exit competition, while surprise package Atletico rout AC Milan
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger described Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben as a “fantastic player and very good diver” after the winger won another controversial penalty against his side in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Robben was at the heart of the incident that Wenger said turned the last 16 tie when the Dutchman won a penalty which resulted in Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny being sent off in the first leg in London.
Holders Bayern, who won that game 2-0, went through 3-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in Tuesday’s second leg, missing a last-gasp penalty which Robben also won in controversial circumstances.
“Robben is very good at getting something out of nothing, he is a great player as well as a very good diver, that’s part of it,” Wenger said. “He’s a fantastic player, I would not deny that, he’s one of the best in the world, but he gets in front [of the defende]) and slows down and goes down, and he gets the free kicks.
“If he (the referee) gives him a yellow card the first time he goes down, he will not do it again.”
Wenger said he was still bitter about the incident from the first leg.
“Overall, over the two games, the decision to send our keeper off in the first game had a huge impact, it was a bad decision.
“Bayern are a good team, they played well but we still have regrets.”
A second-half Bastian Schweinsteiger goal gave Bayern a brief lead in the game before Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski equalised with a thunderbolt of a shot.
Robben angrily rebuked Wenger’s diving claims.
“I expect more of great managers, they don’t need to resort to claims like that,” said the Dutch winger. “I don’t want to have to defend myself against remarks like that.”
Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, who failed to convert a crucial penalty in the first-leg, endured another miserable night in Munich. The Germany attacking midfielder came off at half-time with hamstring trouble and made way for Tomas Rosicky.
“Ozil has a hamstring injury and it looks quite serious,” revealed Wenger. “He will miss [Sunday’s] Tottenham game for sure, he needs a scan. He’s out for at least a few weeks.”
Bayern march onto the quarter-finals, keeping alive their hopes of becoming the first team to retain the Champions League, but they will be without Brazil defender Dante, who picked up his third yellow card in Europe and is now suspended for the first leg.
Atletico Madrid also progressed, as their emphatic 4-1 win at home to AC Milan saw them prevail 5-1 on aggregate.
The surprise package of the competition this season – as well as in the La Liga title race – reached their first Champions League quarter-final since 1997, when their present coach Diego Simeone was in the side.
Argentinian Simeone said he was proud of his side and tried to play down expectations by saying Atletico were very much the underdogs still.
“It is a very nice moment, after such a long time,” said the 43-year-old. “But we are still at the beginning of the knockout stages, and we must continue to get better.
“A difficult and dangerous quarter-final awaits us and we will have to recuperate and continue on the path we are following.
“There will be seven great sides in the last eight and one which will be very enthusiastic and capable of upsetting the others.
“As for Diego Costa he continues to progress, he has great physical strength and presence. He reminds me of some of the great strikers.”
The result never looked too much in doubt once Diego Costa got the opener after three minutes, despite former Real Madrid star Kaka levelling midway through the first-half.
Turkish international Arda Turan restored Atletico’s one goal lead before the break with a half-volley that took a wicked deflection, then Raul Garcia and Costa added two more in the second-half, the latter taking his tally in all competitions this season to 29, including seven in the Champions League.
Milan’s rookie Dutch coach Clarence Seedorf said the second goal had been the killer for his side, who are a shadow of the great Milan sides he was when he was a player.
“For a game and a half we saw a very good AC Milan side,” he said. “The team responded with courage from a great goal by Costa until their second goal, that was a very tough blow to overcome.
“The players tried to react, but they weren’t able to.”