After extra time: Galatasaray won 4-1 on penalty kicks
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Arsene Wenger cried foul on Spanish referee Antonio Lopez Nieto's decision to order a penalty shoot-out in front of the massed ranks of Galatasaray's volatile fans to decide the UEFA Cup final after Arsenal were held to a goalless extra-time draw by 10 men.
Arsenal's spot-kick flops lost their nerve and saw luck desert them as substitute Davor Suker hit the inside of a post and Patrick Vieira struck the bar to let the Turkish side romp home 4-1 to the ecstatic delight of their supporters.
Later, Wenger refused to accept UEFA's explanation of why the penalties were taken at the Galatasaray end of the ground.
It was explained to him that the toss to decide ends for extra-time would also count for where the penalties were taken. However, Wenger stormed: ''I can't agree with that. The referee may be saying that now, but I don't believe it and I think it was unfair.''
Arsenal captain Tony Adams was seen in heated discussion with the referee when the Spaniard indicated the goalmouth into which the penalties would be taken.
Wenger said: ''Nobody has seen this toss of the coin which is supposed to have happened.
''The referee just told Tony Adams that it was what he had decided.''
However, Wenger also had to admit that Arsenal under-achieved in failing to break down a Galatasaray side who had midfield maestro Gheorghe Hagi sent off four minutes into extra-time for striking Adams, who was also booked in the same incident.
''It was not a huge advantage for us to have Hagi sent off,'' admitted Wenger.
''Sometimes you defend better with 10 men because everybody is focused.
''We could not take advantage because, at that stage, we had tired legs and could not afford to go on all-out attack for fear that we could concede a golden goal and the match would be over.
''I had already taken Dennis Bergkamp off before the end of normal time and, with Marc Overmars suffering from tight hamstrings, we did not have enough offensive players.
''I put Suker on because I hoped he would get into the box for a chance and I also knew he was a penalty-taker.''
However, after only Ray Parlour hit the net for Arsenal in the shoot-out, Wenger conceded: ''We had a not very good first half and, in the end, lost to a good Galatasaray side.
''We improved in the second half but really we could not find our true game today.
''It is very disappointing because this is the third cup we have missed this season through penalty shoot-outs.
''We lost in the FA Cup and the Worthington Cup in that way, too, and it is very difficult to take.''
Wenger, whose side finished runners-up to Manchester United in the Premiership, promised he will strengthen the Arsenal squad this summer to prevent the Gunners remaining the nearly men of Europe.
He said: ''If we had won the penalty shoot-out it would not have made any difference to the quality of our game and, so, of course, I want to strengthen the side for next season.''
Marseilles winger Robert Pires and Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler are thought to be Wenger's top targets.
He admitted: ''We would be interested if they became available.''
Meanwhile, Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim said after his side had won the UEFA Cup to complete a notable treble that the victory was not just for the club and its fans but for the whole of Turkey.
''Many people suffered terribly in the earthquake in Turkey last year.
''If this victory brings some happiness back into their lives then I am delighted - and so are all the players,'' said Terim.
''We are very proud if we are able to help the Turkish people in some small way.
''This victory is for the whole country and all of the soccer fans in Turkey.
''I believe they were all united behind us.''
Terim also gave special praise to his Brazilian goalkeeper, Claudio Taffarel, who was named man of the match for an inspired display.
''I am proud and delighted he is in my team,'' he said.
''He was magnificent throughout and thoroughly deserved to be named the best player on the pitch.''
Galatasaray - Taffarel, Penbe, Capone, Popescu, Bulent, K. Suat, Hagi, Davala, Okan, Erdem, Sukur. Substitutes - Inan, Akyel, Ahmet, Mehmet, Hasan, Hakan, Marcio.
Arsenal - Seaman, Dixon, Silvinho, Keown, Adams, Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Parlour, Bergkamp, Henry. Substitutes - Lukic, Winterburn, Suker, Grimandi, Malz, Luzhny, Kanu.
Referee - Antonio Nieto (Spain).