Mikel Arteta admitted Arsenal let their quarter final tie slip from their grasp after suffering a last-gasp hammer blow.
Arteta is now left with a mountain to climb in next week’s second leg after Slavia Prague defender Tomas Holes grabbed an all-important 94th minute away goal to cancel out Nicolas Pepe’s late opener.
Gunners boss Arteta blamed missed chances and poor game management as Arsenal are left with their whole season hanging by a thread.
Arteta, who left captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of his starting line-up, said: “The final result leaves a difficult taste. It is difficult to take, because the game is under control. We got the goal that we wanted.
“We missed some big, big chances as well, I must say, but then we played two or three balls in certain areas we should not do.
“We put ourselves on the back foot, we concede the corner and from there, they put a lot of bodies in there and anything can happen. Obviously it changes a lot of the feeling for after the game.
“We have to manage the game, the last four or five minutes, much better than we did. It’s not what we expect.”
Arteta insisted he had no regrets about leaving out Aubameyang who only came on as a late substitute along with goalscorer Pepe and Arsenal’s biggest star did not start their biggest game of the season.
Arteta added: “It was a big decision to leave some of the players out but we played the best team to start the game and still have some key players to come on and have an impact later on.
“I think we made a bad decision playing the ball and from there we got trapped and conceded the corner.”
But despite the late setback, Arteta insists Arsenal can still go through. He added: “I totally believe we can go there and win the game or I wouldn’t be sitting here. We need to score goals.
“We need to win the game. The mindset is going to be to go there to win the game. We need to score and we know that. We’ve done it in the past and we need to do it again. We just worry about our players and the things that we have to do.”
Slavia goalscorer Holes said: “It is superb to score a late equaliser against Arsenal, what else I can wish for? I will remember it until the end of my life.
“We got a superb result. I just went after the ball which flew into the right place, I was lucky the goalkeeper did not keep it out.”