x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Wenger slams Uefa witch-hunt

Arsene Wenger brands Uefa's decision to charge Eduardo with diving a "complete disgrace" and accuses them of staging a "witch-hunt" against the striker.

Arsene Wenger today branded Uefa's decision to charge Eduardo with diving a "complete disgrace" and accused them of staging a "witch-hunt" against the striker. Uefa charged the Arsenal striker yesterday for "deceiving the referee" when he won a penalty against Celtic in Wednesday's Champions League qualifying play-off second leg at the Emirates Stadium, which Arsenal won 3-1 for a 5-1 aggregate win.

If found guilty Eduardo could miss Arsenal's first two Group H matches against Standard Liege and Olympiakos. Wenger said: "We won't accept the way we have been treated in this case for two reasons. I believe that you can debate whether it was a penalty or not. For me it's a witch-hunt that we see and not an objective judgement of a case. This charge implies there was intent and a desire to cheat the referee. Having watched the pictures again there was nothing conclusive.

"It singles out a player in Europe to be a cheat and that is not acceptable. Uefa has taken action that is not defendable." Meanwhile, Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill could not conceal his disappointment after seeing his side miss out on qualification for the group stage of the Europa League. Villa defeated Rapid Vienna 2-1 in the return home leg on Thursday night, but went out on the away goals rule as the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate. O'Neill said: "We should have got through. We should have had the game out of sight before they scored and it was unfortunate. I am desperately disappointed."

Uefa Cup holders Shakhtar Donetsk have been drawn against Club Brugge, Partizan Belgrade, and Toulouse in the group stages of the inaugural Europa League. * With agencies