Fabregas hails Arsenal character

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The Independent Football

Battle-weary Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas praised his team-mates for coming through what he believes will go down as one of the toughest matches in the club's history last night.

The Gunners' hopes of European glory remain alive after they fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona at Emirates Stadium.

The night proved to be a bittersweet one for Fabregas, who scored the Gunners' crucial second equaliser from the penalty spot before hobbling off with a suspected broken leg soon after.

Barcelona dominated large parts of the match and Fabregas said he was delighted that his side had dug deep to keep the tie alive.

"It was a very hard game to play in," said the midfielder, who joined Arsenal from Barcelona in 2003.

"It was one of the most difficult games we have ever played in and one of the most difficult games that the Arsenal fans have seen at the Emirates and at Highbury.

"It was very difficult because they have great players who are good on the ball.

"We knew it was going to be difficult but we showed character and courage and we are happy with the 2-2."

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said last night that he thought his side were lucky to be in the tie after they fought back from Zlatan Ibrahimovic's brace with goals from Fabregas and Theo Walcott.

His captain disagrees, but admits Arsenal will go into the second leg as underdogs.

"I don't think we're lucky to still be in it because we fought until the end and that's not anything to do with luck," said Fabregas, who has scored 19 times for the club this season.

"I think right now Barcelona are favourites going into the second leg but they have two players suspended as well (Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique) so we'll see what happens."

Arsenal's Barclays Premier League title hopes would be dealt a serious blow should a scan today reveal that the injury has brought a premature end to the 22-year-old's season.

Fabregas fears he may have to watch from the sidelines for the rest of the campaign as Arsenal look to overhaul the four-point gap between themselves and leaders Manchester United.

"I am not good," said Fabregas as he left the Emirates Stadium on crutches last night.

"We have to wait (for the scans), but I hope I can wear the Arsenal shirt again this season.

"I fear the worst, which is that I have broken something."