The howl of triumph emitted by Lukasz Fabianski after saving Cleo's second penalty in Belgrade last night revealed the anguish he has suffered in the Arsenal goal.
Fabianski's last Champions League outing was an error-strewn defeat in Porto last season but against Partizan, said Arsène Wenger, he showed the "real Fabianski".
"We have seen today the Lukasz Fabianski we see in training every day," said the Arsenal manager. "He had a faultless game. I know it is in him and he got it out in the game tonight. Hopefully that will give him the needed belief and confidence.
"I was always confident he will come out as a great goalkeeper. We have to keep confidence in him and he will gain experience with games like that."
Wenger added he did not know if Manuel Almunia, who was absent last night with an elbow injury, would be fit to play at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. "We will see how the injury goes. It is too early to say," he said.
Fabianski was hugged at the final whistle by his team-mates, one of whom, Jack Wilshere, said: "Our keepers have been under a lot of pressure, but Lukasz made a great save at the end."
That was one of three penalties, two of them missed. But although Arshavin missed Arsenal's penalty, Partizan coach Alexandar Stanojevic said it was the "the turning point" because his centre-half Marko Jovanovic was dismissed in the incident after a tangle with Chamakh. "It is difficult to play against Arsenal with 11 men," said Stanojevic, "with 10 it is nearly impossible. Arsenal are a better team with better players." Television replays suggested Chamakh may have dived. Stanojevic limited himself to saying: "The penalty was maybe a bit severe and so was the sending off."
The match was in doubt prior to kick-off after a series of power cuts knocked out one of the floodlights. Wenger said he had urged Uefa to play if at all possible. "It would be terrible to go home and not play, so I encouraged Uefa that we wanted to play even if one corner [floodlight] was off. Overall it was acceptable."
Of the game Wenger added: "Partizan gave us the game we expected – full of commitment, full of power on every break. We had a lot of the ball and created a lot of chances. However, we could not kill the game off. They came back with the penalty and then we were always under threat. After that we needed to keep the pace high and, when we got the second goal, I thought we looked comfortable."
Wilshere added: "We knew it was going to be tough but we deserved the win." Wilshere was withdrawn midway through the second period. "He got a few knocks and I decided to be cautious with him," said Wenger.Reuse content