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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League

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By ESPN Staff

Toure finds Anfield defeat hard to swallow

Kolo Toure admits the manner of Arsenal's dramatic Champions League exit at Anfield was 'hard to accept' after the Gunners came within touching distance of the semi-finals last night.

Arsenal were minutes away from securing a place in the last four after Emmanuel Adebayor levelled the tie last night at 2-2 when he netted a second crucial away goal following a breathtaking 70-yard run from England youngster Theo Walcott.

However, the Gunners' joy was shortlived as Liverpool went up the other end almost immediately and were awarded a controversial penalty by Swedish referee Peter Frojfeldt when he adjudged substitute Ryan Babel had been bundled over by Toure.

Reds captain Steven Gerrard smashed home the resulting spot-kick, before Babel wrapped things up in stoppage time as Arsenal pressed forwards, setting up a semi-final meeting with Chelsea.

The fashion of the defeat, though, was a bitter pill to swallow for Arsene Wenger's men, who had taken an early lead through Abou Diaby before the home side hit back via Sami Hyypia and a brilliant goal from Fernando Torres.

A campaign which once promised so much for Arsenal is now in real danger of unravelling, with a crunch Premier League clash to come on Sunday at leaders Manchester United, whom they trail by six points.

Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure, though, insists all is not yet lost despite the bitter disappointment on a night of high drama at Anfield.

'We came back into it and then Liverpool got a penalty which was really hard to accept,' he said.

'The referee gave the foul against me, but I just moved away from him [Babel] and I think Cesc caught his hand maybe, which was outside the area anyway - but that is the game and the referee has given the penalty. What can you do?'

Toure declared: 'We just need to think about the Premiership now and see how far we can go.'

Gunners boss Wenger considered the penalty which swung the game late on was 'dodgy' and a 'gift' from the Swedish official, maintaining his side had been the victim of bad decisions in both legs.

At the Emirates last week Arsenal were denied a spot-kick when Dirk Kuyt pulled back Hleb - and last night they were on the receiving end of a controversial decision.

'I felt at that stage the game was over at 2-2. Then there was a dodgy penalty and we started to lose concentration,' lamented Wenger.

'Over the two games this is hard to swallow. The big decisions over penalties in both matches have gone against us.

'It is difficult to take, the players in the dressing room were very down because they believe week after week the decisions are going against them.

'It was not a penalty, I have seen the replay - but we were denied a clear penalty last week. That was a real penalty, this one wasn't.'

Wenger added: 'It will be hard now, we have to go to Manchester United next at the weekend, but we will try to finish strongly. However, we still feel a great sense of injustice.'