By Chris Harris
Wojciech Szczesny believes his vital penalty save against Udinese was a psychological triumph as well as a technical one.
The Pole flew across his goal on the hour mark to push Antonio di Natale's spot kick over the crossbar and keep Arsenal 2-1 ahead on aggregate in their Champions League play-off in Italy.
Within ten minutes the visitors were out of sight thanks to Theo Walcott's fine finish but Szczesny's intervention was certainly the turning point of a captivating second leg. Afterwards the 21-year-old revealed how he gained the upper hand on Udinese's penalty taker.
"I just tried to get in Di Natale’s head," said Szczesny.
"I gave him a little bit of stick and was probably not very nice to him but it worked so I am delighted. I told him I was too good for him and that he wasn’t going to score. But in a nice way! I got in his head in the end because he missed the penalty so it worked.
"He is a quality player of course – he showed that in the first half with his finish. I don’t think a lot of players in the world could have finished that the way he did. So you have to give him a lot of credit. But it makes me even happier to know I saved a penalty at such a crucial moment against such a quality player.
"I don’t think it's my best save. Someone said once that there are no good saves at penalties – they are just poor penalties taken. I don’t take too much credit – I went the right way and when you do that you have a 50 per cent chance of saving the penalty.
"I don’t think it was a great save but I’m still very happy with it."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source