Nicklas Bendtner admitted that Arsenal had been beaten by the better team following their UEFA Champions League elimination.
Bendtner fired the Gunners into a shock lead against Barcelona in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final at Camp Nou, following a 2-2 draw at Emirates Stadium last week.
But Lionel Messi then inspired a stunning comeback, scoring all four goals in a 4-1 victory on the night that secured Barca's place in the last four with a 6-3 aggregate triumph.
Bendtner had no complaints about the outcome and saluted the Spanish side for the brilliance of their play.
"They were the better team and sometimes you lose like that," the Denmark striker told Sky Sports.
"They played some really good football.
"If you are going to lose, you want to lose by the other team playing you off the pitch. They were stronger than us today."
Discussing Messi's individual performance, Bendtner added: "He's a phenomenal player and he showed that again tonight."
Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia also lavished praise on Messi, admitting he faced a torrid time in trying to repel the threat of the Argentina star.
"You try to anticipate what he is going to do but it is very difficult," said Almunia.
"He can do whatever he wants and at any moment, and it's difficult to stop this kind of player."