Arsenal 0-0 Villarreal
It was a cold Tuesday night at the end of April 2006 and we were nearly there. On the brink of reaching the Champions League final.
After Kolo Toure’s winner in the first leg, Arsenal only needed a draw in Spain to go through. The first leg was eventful, even a squirrel wanted to get in on the action! However, what was to come was nothing short of incredible.
I was only 9 at the time, but I remember not looking forward to anything so much in my life. Special Arsenal boxers were worn to school and I didn’t concentrate all day. To this day, my two favourite Arsenal matches were from that competition; Madrid away and Juventus at Highbury. I was confident, but had knew how good Riquelme could be (albeit from FIFA 06)!
The game started. Redcurrent shirt on. To say I was nervous is an understatement. We sustained lots of early pressure but the home side couldn’t get past the team who hadn’t conceded a goal in 10 Champions League games.
Then, with a minute to play, Villarreal were awarded a penalty after Clichy idiotically fouled their man. That was it, we’d be going to extra time and the dream would probably be over. I sprinted upstairs and lay face-down on my bed.
Suddenly, I heard a scream from downstairs…
“LEHMANN SAVES IT AND ARSENAL SURVIVE”
The big, magic hands of Jens had sent us to the final for the first time. It was better than a goal. I sprinted downstairs and celebrated like nothing. All the phones ringing from people if never even heard of to say congratulations. Absolutely brilliant.
Thanks for the memory, Arsenal.