Arsenal duo Petr Cech and Alex Iwobi have admitted it was difficult to play on after Danny Welbeck’s injury in their 0-0 draw with Sporting.
The Gunners secured qualification to the knockout stages, but the game was overshadowed as Welbeck was taken off on a stretcher in the first half.
The England international challenged for a header in the box before crumpling on the pitch, where he then received treatment – including an oxygen mask – as he was carried off to be replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The injury seemed to affect both sets of players for the rest of the game, with neither team reaching top gear and little in the way of goalscoring opportunities.
“They defended really well and we created half chances,” Petr Cech told BT Sport.
“We had a lot of possession. We did well to control the game and play well at the back and they didn’t have a lot of chances. it took us a while to open them up and this is the kind of game where you need to score. It’s disappointing not to score as we wanted to guarantee top spot.
“Danny [Welbeck]’s looked like a serious injury which is not nice to see and our thoughts are with him and also Stephan [Lichtsteiner].
“At half-time we knew we were doing good, we just need to push for the goal and maintain intensity. We had some good chances in the second half and close calls but unfortunately we couldn’t put it in the back of the net. We take the points and qualification for the next round.
“It was down to them working well, they were very organised and have very good players so you have to control our emotion, and we lacked a little bit of the killer pass.
“We know we need to switch back to the Premier League and then we look to finish the job in Ukraine. It is tough when you are the favourites in the group and everyone plays with extra motivation against you.”
Alex Iwobi went on to add that it it was ‘mentally challenging’ to play on after Welbeck’s injury, with BT Sport confirming he has gone to hospital for tests.
“It is mentally challenging [playing on after a team-mate is badly injured] but sometimes it comes with the game, and Danny [Welbeck] has had a lot of injuries. We wish him the best and will keep on encouraging and motivating him to get back.
“We have to give credit to Sporting and they were compact but we lacked a bit of composure, even from myself.
“It was sad as Pierre [Aubameyang] was through, but it was a smart challenge from [Jeremy] Mathieu and unfortunate for us as we weren’t able to get the goal.
“We will go again at Wolves which we know won’t be easy as they have started the season well.”