Mikel Arteta says Arsenal should be leaving Rome with more than a 1-1 draw and admits he was unhappy with the defending that led to Benfica winning a penalty.
The Gunners dominated large swathes of the Europa League first-leg tie squandering good chances on either side of the Portuguese side’s opener on 55 minutes.
While the Gunners levelled within three minutes through Bukayo Saka’s close-range strike, the failure to add a second means the tie remains poised on a knife-edge ahead of next week’s trip to Athens.
“We were very dominant, we created some big chances,” said Arteta on BT Sport.
“In Europe when you do that away from home you have to be more ruthless. Then the disappointing thing is the way we concede the goal, we just gave them a goal. It’s 1-1, it’s all to play for.
“We could be in a much better position but we are 1-1 and everything will be decided in the next game.”
The home side’s penalty was awarded after Emile Smith Rowe was adjudged to have handled a cross that appeared to hit his chest first. While the decision seemed harsh, Arteta bemoaned the lapse in concentration that first led to the Gunners conceding a corner and then his players’ failure to react to it being played short.
“For me, it’s the decision we made before [the penalty that is frustrating],” said Arteta.
“We gave away a corner in an area where you cannot play. We concede the corner, we know the action they are going to do, we still don’t react quickly enough and we concede the penalty.
“Looking at it, it’s difficult to judge whether the ball bounced on Emile’s body before the hand but it is what it is. The decision was made.
“We had a great reaction and then we scored a great goal. We had some other chances in the second half, we tried to maintain the level energy-wise.
“I think both teams dropped in the last 20 minutes because it was a really physical game and as well because of the amount of games we’re playing. Overall, we should have left the ground with more.”