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Thun's Champions League dream ends

Thun's players are left to reflect on missed opportunities

(Keystone)

FC Thun's Champions League dreams are in tatters after a controversial 1-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal dumped them out of the tournament on Tuesday night.

Thun, who can still qualify for the Uefa Cup, were aggrieved to lose after having a player sent off and seeing two goals disallowed before Arsenal won a late penalty.

The canton Bern side went into the game at the Stade de Suisse knowing they had to win and also rely on results from other games to stand a realistic chance of staying in Europe's top competition.

And despite playing for nearly an hour with ten men, following the dismissal of defender Armand Deumi, they battled hard against the superstars of London and created the best chances of the match before being hit by a hammer blow.

Defender Ljubo Milicevic told swissinfo after the game that the nature of the defeat was particularly hard to swallow.

"We were definitely hard done by and it's unfortunate that we had to lose this way," he said. "I would rather have lost two- or three-nil because they played better than us, but we did not deserve to lose this game.

"I don't want to criticise the referee too much, but he definitely shafted us and not the other team."

Still hopeful

But Milicevic remains hopeful that Thun's European ride will not derail completely, with his side needing just a draw in their last group game against Sparta Prague to secure a berth in the Uefa Cup.

And despite the Champions League disappointment, Milicevic applauded both his team and the fans.

"The fans have been fantastic and hats off to them for the way they have been behind us the whole way," he told swissinfo. "Hopefully we can get into the Uefa Cup and bring a few more European games to this stadium.

"Nobody expected us to get into the Champions League and no one expected us to give the big teams a run for their money, so in that respect I'm very happy with the team's performances."

Milicevic's team-mate Mauro Lustrinelli said the atmosphere at all three Champions League home matches had been "fantastic".

"I would like to thank all the fans for helping us to lift our performance. I am sorry that we could not give them something to cheer about against Arsenal."

One of the biggest cheers of the night was reserved for Swiss defender Philippe Senderos who returned in an Arsenal shirt to the scene of Switzerland's World Cup qualifying triumph against Turkey earlier this month.

Senderos was gracious to the Thun team after the game.

"They are a good team and we knew that it was going to be difficult," he told swissinfo. "I think they played very well and you have to give credit to them. They defended very well and created some good chances in the second half despite being only ten men."

swissinfo, Matthew Allen at the Stade de Suisse, Bern

Key facts

Of the four teams in each Champions League Group, the top two progress to the knock-out stages of the tournament, the third-placed team joins the Uefa Cup competition and the bottom-placed side go out of Europe completely.
Thun can no longer catch second-placed Ajax in Group B, but are currently in third place, two points ahead of Sparta Prague.
If Thun avoid defeat in Prague on December 7, they will finish third in the group and progress to the Uefa Cup.

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