“I admired how they approached before the game, during the game, and after the game.”
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has praised the stance taken by Arsenal against Slavia Prague, saying he “loved everything” about their Europa League quarter-final win.
Rangers were knocked out by Arsenal’s opponents at the last-16 stage. Slavia player Ondrej Kudela allegedly directed a racial insult at Rangers player Glen Kamara during the second leg.
Kudela insisted he only swore at the Rangers player and denied using racist language. But he was subsequently given a 10-match ban by UEFA and missed the Arsenal second leg tie.
Arsenal v Slavia Prague.
Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette took a knee in front of the entire Slavia team before the game, with his teammates doing the same behind him. Gerrard has said that he “loved” the gesture by the Arsenal forward.
“I loved everything about the game. I loved the Arsenal performance, the way they went about it. I admired how they approached before the game, during the game, and after the game. I’m sure Glen did as well,” Gerrard told reporters during his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“I was really proud watching Arsenal’s performance last night. Everything about it, the way they prepared for the game, the way the manager spoke, the way the players behaved before, during and after, and then to back it up with that level of performance, I sat there are really enjoyed that performance. I thought it was sensational.”
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta confirmed that his players came to him before the game asking could they make the gesture and the Spaniard spoke to the club before allowing them to do so.
“They asked me and the club that they wanted to take that initiative,” the former Rangers player said when speaking after the game.
“They had the right reasons for it, so the club was very supportive. I was supportive and thankfully the referee, and UEFA, they’ve been supportive. So I think it was a good gesture.
Lacazette ✊❤️ pic.twitter.com/aHlh1SYr00
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“They came to me, they wanted to take that initiative. We spoke with the club to make sure that we could follow the rules of UEFA and we can do it in the right way.
“We decided to take that approach, which I really like from the players, and I must say that UEFA was very supportive as well. The captains came to me and asked me to do that, and I just supported them like the club did.”
Arsenal won the game thanks to two goals from Lacazette and one each from Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka.
They will now face their former manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal side in the semi-final.