Neil Warnock and his Bluebirds talked about missing striker Emiliano Sala in the away dressing room at the Emirates Stadium before kick-off against Arsenal.
It was an emotional occasion for all involved including Cardiff City players and more than 2,000 fans who made the trip to London.
“The fans doing what they’ve done down at Cardiff City Stadium has been pretty amazing and the Nantes fans have been fabulous.
“City supporters handled it well and they’ve been a bit of class,” said Warnock. “Arsenal fans, too, were good. On a night like tonight, you’ve got to say well done to how everybody has responded.
“What a performance. Our best of the season away. All credit to the boys.
“It was unprecedented really, with what’s happened this week. It was bound to be emotional. We said before kick-off, for Emiliano we ought to put a performance in.
“People expected us to lie down, but I don’t think we’ve ever had 19 shots away against a good side like Arsenal. We were the better side for large periods of the game.
“I know we’ve lost a game of football but there are more important things. I am really proud of the players and proud to be their manager.”
Tributes were paid to Sala before the game from both sets of players, club officials and supporters.
Both captains carried out bouquets of daffodils and tulips, before a moment of silent reflection for Sala and pilot David Ibbotson was observed.
Full-back Joe Bennett was man of the match even though his father had died only three days earlier.
“Joe was super,” said Warnock. “He was tremendous.”
Cardiff deserved better than defeat against Arsenal in the Bluebirds’ first match since the disappearance of striker Emiliano Sala.
Warnock also expressed anger about a clumsy Bruno Manga challenge after 66 minutes which gave Arsenal a penalty.
The Bluebirds manager had warned Manga at half-time to be careful with his challenges in the penalty box and said: “When you tell somebody be careful about tackling in the box it’s bitterly disappointing when that happens.
“It was sloppy. Amateurish. I am really disappointed with that.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted the spot-kick awarded after Manga clumsily brought down Sead Kolasinac.
Alexandre Lacazette doubled Arsenal’s lead with a low strike into the bottom corner with seven minutes left before substitute Nathaniel Mendez-Laing pulled one back during injury time.
Warnock’s men had started on the front foot. After a superb block from Manga, Cardiff countered well and twice saw efforts from Bobby Decordova-Reid go narrowly wide.
Oumar Niasse, who had appeals for a penalty waved away, led the line admirably for City and went close with an early effort.
It was a night when Bluebirds management, players and fan can reflect with pride on their club.
Sala, though, should have been involved. The pain of his disappearance remains intense.
Arsenal: Leno, Lichsteiner (Jenkinson 60), Mustafi, Monreal, Kolašinac, Guendouzi, Torreira, Elneny (Iwobi 46), Özil (Ramsey 76), Aubameyang, Lacazette. Subs not used: Čech, Mavropanos, Xhaka, Nketiah.
Referee: Mike Dean