DONETSK, Ukraine, Nov 4, 2010 (AFP) - Arsene Wenger accused Arsenal of complacency after Shakhtar Donetsk stormed back to beat the Gunners 2-1 in the Champions League.
Wenger's side looked in control when Theo Walcott opened the scoring at the Donbass Arena on Wednesday, but the Ukrainian champions knocked Arsenal out of their stride after that and took all three points thanks to a Craig Eastmond own goal and a clinical strike from former Gunners star Eduardo da Silva.
|Coach of Arsenal FC Arsène Wenger attends the UEFA Champions League, Group H football match with match with FC Shakhtar in Donetsk on November 3, 2010. AFP|
The north London team, who could have qualified for the last 16 with a victory, were without several injured stars including captain Cesc Fabregas and Russia winger Andrei Arshavin.
But Wenger refused to use that as an excuse as careless defensive mistakes and poor finishing condemned Arsenal to their first defeat in Europe this season.
"Congratulations to Donetsk, they played well and won the game. We had a good start, but after that we lost our urgency and let Donetsk come into the game too much," Wenger said.
"We lost concentration in the duels and you could see what was coming towards half-time.
"I felt we moved out of the game altogether and moved into the game altogether, so it was more of a team problem, a kind of complacency problem more than an individual problem.
"We have learned the lesson that at this level you cannot lose focus at any moment and that is why we were punished. But we are still in a strong position in the group."
Although Arsenal would have preferred to book their spot in the knockout stages ahead of schedule, they should still advance.
Attention now turns to a Premier League showdown with Newcastle this weekend as the Gunners try to keep in touch with leaders Chelsea.
Wenger made seven changes in the Ukraine to keep his stars fresh for the Newcastle game but he insisted he had not put domestic success ahead of the Champions League.
"At the moment we are not in a position where we can choose -- we have to fight," Wenger said.
"We have a difficult league game on Sunday against Newcastle. We will win what we can and not choose too much."
Meanwhile, Wenger admitted he was shocked to hear injured striker Robin van Persie had been called up into the Holland squad.
"He has not played with us or practised with the group at the moment, so I am quite surprised he is in the national team," Wenger said.
Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu admitted his side's victory was sweet revenge after their 5-1 defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium two weeks ago.
"It was a good match and an important win for me. I have been waiting for it a long time," he said.
"We should have stopped Walcott, but did not. However, I liked the reaction of my team, they played at a good level. Arsenal are a really good team, and we had to earn the points."
Walcott embarked on a scintillating counter-attack to open the scoring in the 10th minute.
Jack Wilshere laid the ball into the path of Walcott as Arsenal broke from a Shakhtar corner and the England winger sprinted clear of the home defence before sliding a low finish past Andriy Pyatov from just outside the penalty area.
But Shakhtar's equaliser arrived in the 28th minute after Emmanuel Eboue tripped Jadson.
Jadson took the set-piece himself and whipped over a teasing delivery that Dimitro Chygrynskiy met with a powerful header which Eastmond could only glance into his own net.
French left-back Gael Clichy gifted Shakhtar the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Clichy had time to clear from deep inside his own half, but instead opted to take an extra touch, allowing Darijo Srna to steal possession and drill over a low cross that Eduardo swept past Lukasz Fabianski.