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Arsenal so close to miracle at Monaco

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Giroud's agony was shared by all associated with Arsenal
Giroud's agony was shared by all associated with Arsenal

MONACO: 0 ARSENAL: 2 (3-3 on aggregate, Monaco win on away goals)

So near and yet so far - this was another night of desperate agony for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger in the Champions League.

As they came to within a goal of a comeback that would have created Champions League history, Arsenal may be hailed by some for their heroic performance and yet the truth is that they are gallant losers yet again.

The odds had been stacked against the Wenger's side following their 3-1 home defeat in the first leg, a deficit from which no team in the Champions League era has recovered when heading into the away second leg.

Olivier Giroud's first-half effort and Aaron Ramsey's goal after 79 minutes set up a grandstand finale, but the valiant Gunners just fell short as they bowed out on the away-goals rule.

After a slow start, Giroud headed a half-chance wide after 13 minutes. Arsenal were lacking a spark as Monaco - who had not conceded a single goal in their three home Champions League group stages earlier this season - happily took the tempo out of the match.

Giroud, who had missed several chances in the first leg, grabbed a lifeline for the visitors with a well-taken finish nine minutes before half-time.

Monaco continued to ride their luck as Arsenal pressed, with Mesut Ozil's free-kick tipped over at the start of the second half.

The game then opened up as Arsenal committed men forwards, and finally reduced the arrears further through substitute Ramsey after 79 minutes.

There was, though, to be no miracle of Monte Carlo as Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic denied a late header from Sanchez to end Arsenal's European dreams at the last-16 stage once again - and leave Arsene Wenger's men counting the cost of conceding a stoppage-time third goal at the Emirates Stadium.