Petr Cech has said it is his “dream to retire with a trophy in my hands” after Arsenal overturned a two-goal deficit against Rennes to qualify for the Europa League quarter-finals.
The end is near
Cech announced back in January that he will be retiring from professional football, ending his four-year stay with the Gunners, and he is determined to finish on a high.
“My dream goes on”, Cech said in his post-match interview.
“My dream is to retire with a trophy in my hands. Today we gave ourselves the chance for me to finish like this. There’s a long way to go but with performances like that, we can compete."
After falling to 3-1 defeat in the first leg, Arsenal needed a historic result to secure qualification, having not turned around a two-goal deficit in European competition since 1970. Thankfully for the home supporters, they extended their current run of positive performances at Emirates Stadium.
“We were talking about it in the dressing room before the game. We said that if we were meant to go out, we’d go out with a big performance,” said Cech.
“As soon as the game started, you could see the way the team played and fought together. You know that you are giving yourselves a chance. We scored goals at important times and kept a clean sheet, which is what you need in a game like that."
Nerves despite fast start
Early goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a first European goal for Ainsley Maitland-Niles helped secured a comfortable scoreline both on the night and on aggregate for Unai Emery’s side, who scored early in the first leg too, however on that occasion failed to put the game out of Rennes’ reach.
When asked about drawing level in the tie so early on in the match, Cech said: “That’s very important, but this game was a tricky situation because at 2-0 up, you’re through, but they just need one goal.
"You know that you need the third goal regardless, and even then, if they score once, you’re going to extra-time. The 3-1 loss away put us in a very difficult situation, but we knew how to deal with that and we got what we deserved."