Ben Arfa: 'We're making history'
Rennes' Hatem Ben Arfa hailed his teammates and the club's fans after the 3-1 win over Arsenal in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-16 tie; Gunners boss Unai Emery was confident of a return-leg comeback.
Thursday, 7 March 2019
UEFA Europa League, round of 16 1st leg
Roazhon Park, Rennes
Stade Rennais FC 3 - 1 Arsenal FC
Julien Stéphan (Stade Rennais FC coach): "This was a great performance against an excellent team who came out guns blazing. They had us on the back foot for the first 15 minutes and we suffered a bit faced with their quality. But that's what's great about what my players did: they weathered the storm and then gradually got back into the match. In the second half, my players showed a lot of intelligence, patience and lucidity. Despite the win, my opinion is that Arsenal are still favourites given their history and their experience. All I know is that we need to score over there, at least once if not twice."
Hatem Ben Arfa (Stade Rennais FC forward): "That was a very intense match. We were lucky to be playing in a great atmosphere in front of our own fans, who encouraged us all night. They spurred us on. We managed to put Arsenal in real difficulty. They were down to ten men but that was because we pushed so hard they cracked. I was talking to friends and I predicted a 3-1 or 4-1 win for us… I was right! Crossing paths with [Arsenal coach Unai] Emery again? The motivation was to play a solid match, win and take an option on qualification. That's what was in my head. Emery was just the same as ever: very excited. I looked over from time to time and had to laugh - he hasn't changed a bit. Now we need to head to London for the return leg with the same winning mentality. We're making history here in this city!"
Unai Emery (Arsenal FC coach): "It was a very difficult match. We controlled things well early and scored, while conceding very few chances. The result over 90 minutes was a poor one for us but in the return leg it will be 11 against 11. We'll have to do better than tonight, but with our players and our fans, we will show a different side. We won't have Sokratis [Papastathopoulos] or [Alexandre] Lacazette, but we can make a comeback."