Cape Town - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has praised Barcelona for turning football into art after losing 3-1 to them at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
The Gunners are out of the Champions League following their 5-1 aggregate defeat to the Catalans, and while the Frenchman must have hated watching goals from Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi put his team to the sword, a part of him could only admire the South American trio.
"At some stage in our sport you have to admire art and they have two or three players who transform normal life into art," Wenger said. "I respect that.
"We created plenty of dangerous situations where we couldn't take the chances we created, but I must say Barcelona's accuracy in the final third and the quality of the creativity, especially Messi, is absolutely exceptional.
"You go through 90 minutes and you come out of a game, [Messi] didn't miss one first touch. Of course, for me it's suffering but for a guy who just loves football, it's exceptional."
The Gunners were level on the night after Mohamed Elneny scored early in the second-half, and although Barca still had a two-goal cushion at that point, Wenger credits his side with at least troubling the reigning European champions.
"I felt from the bench they were wobbling a bit and a bit insecure," he insisted. "We could not take our chances to score the second goal that would have put us in a strong position.
"When they scored to make it 2-1 you could see we lost a bit of our edge and belief, but there were moments at 1-1 where you could see that we had our chances."
"I'm pleased with the performance we put in.The quality of our game was good. I'm disappointed with the result but overall we played against a team with the best strikers I've seen. Well done Barca. They are an exceptional side."