Mikel Arteta admitted facing a tough task to lift his heartbroken stars after they were sunk by a last-gasp Olympiacos winner.
Leading 1-0 from the first leg, the 2019 finalists were pegged back by a 54th-minute Pape Abou Cisse header before Youssef El-Arabi netted in the final minute of extra time.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang was then tearful after missing an even later sitter as a chance to win the tie on aggregate went begging.
Arteta said after the defeat : “It hurts a lot. We had a lot of intentions in this competition. It was very important for us. Emotionally it has been a very difficult game.
"We tried and tried and tried, we threw everything at them. They defended very deep. We managed to score though and we were through but then we conceded a late corner and it was another set piece.
"To attack against 10 players is a very difficult thing. I felt we created enough chances to win the game comfortably. It didn't happen but we had to manage the game much better in the final five minutes.”
Aubameyang had netted with just seven minutes of extra time remaining with Arsenal seemingly through to Friday’s last-16 draw.
Asked how he managed to blow the chance to clinch victory, the Gabon striker said: “I don't even know.
“I feel very, very bad. It can happen but I do not know how I missed this chance. I was tired, I had some cramps but it is not an excuse."
Arteta was instead left to defend his players from suggestions that they were too cocky and complacent having won the first leg in Athens last week.
The Gunners boss said: "I don't think so. The players knew it would be a difficult game. It is cruel.
“It is a massive disappointment but at the same time I am very proud of the players.
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