Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock believes they delivered a strong performance for the missing Emiliano Sala in their 2-1 defeat at Arsenal on Tuesday night.
The Bluebirds played their first game since both striker Sala and pilot David Ibbotson’s tragic disappearance on route from Nantes to Cardiff on a Piper PA-46 Malibu aircraft that vanished off Alderney in the English Channel Islands last week.
Despite the very best efforts of the search and rescue teams, the pair were not found with Guernsey Police calling off the search after three days last Thursday.
However, a private operation was initiated three days later when Sala’s family received the required budget of €300,000 from crowdfunding.
Before the Premier League game at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night, tributes were laid out to Sala with daffodils being handed out.
“We talked about Emiliano before the game and I thought it was appropriate that we gave a good account of ourselves against a good side and I thought we could’ve won the game,” Warnock told BBC.
“What a performance, if Arsenal had our chances they would’ve beaten us by four. Nineteen shots at the Emirates, it’s definitely our best performance of the season.”
In the match itself, Arsenal and Cardiff remained goalless until the 66th-minute when Bruno Ecuele Manga brought down Sead Kolasinac in the area.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then stepped up to fire home the penalty for his 15th Premier League goal this season with Alexandre Lacazette putting Arsenal 2-0 up in the 83rd-minute.
But Cardiff grabbed a late consolation goal when substitute Nathaniel Mendez-Laing netted in stoppage-time.
Warnock’s side remains down in 18th-place in the Premier League table and three points adrift from safety.
Cardiff will next host Bournemouth at home on Saturday, where they will hope to end a run of three defeats in their last four league games.