Reaching final has given players belief - Wenger

September 26, 2006

LONDON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Arsene Wenger praised his players after Arsenal's 2-0 win over Portuguese Champions Porto on Tuesday, saying that reaching last season's final has given them the belief they had previously lacked in Europe.

Arsenal eased to victory thanks to goals from Thierry Henry, who scored his 50th European goal for the London club, and Alexandr Hleb who scored his first, as they strengthened their position at the top of Group G.

'It (reaching the final) has given us belief and frustration as well because we were very very close to the line,' said Wenger of the 2-1 defeat by Barcelona in the May final.

'We try to transform that frustration into motivation... we have a young team we believe we can do better.'

The Frenchman, who celebrates 10 years in charge at Arsenal this week, said he was pleased by Hleb's growing confidence in an Arsenal shirt.

'Sometimes he refuses to take his chance and hopefully that will convince him tonight that he can do that even more. We think with that desire he can get even more goals than that,' said the coach.

Wenger, who says he will mark his 10th anniversary by holding training as normal, will be worried by the injury sustained by former Chelsea defender, William Gallas.

'Gallas has a hamstring problem, it looked to me very serious, we hope its not too bad but for sure Saturday we will certainly be short,' he said.'

Porto coach Manuel Jesualdo Ferreira said Arsenal's tempo was too much for his young side.

'Arsenal are a very good team, their play was really very fast, we couldn't keep up,' he said.

'As soon as they scored the second goal it was going to be much harder... we have some things to learn but we are a young team and we can learn.'