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"It was the winter holiday and I was back in Togo having a kickabout with friends when my phone rang.One of the boys answered it and said, 'Manu, it's Arsene for you'. 'Arsene who?' I said. 'Arsene Wenger', he said. 'Get out of it', I said, and grabbed the phone off him. But then I heard the voice. 'Allo'. F*****g hell. It is Arsene Wenger!"
-Emmanuel Adebayor

Arsenal 0-0 Real Madrid... And Then There Was One

Arsenal are the only remaining British team in the champions league after Chelsea (lost to Barca agg:3-2), Liverpool(lost to Benfica agg:3-0) and Rangers(lost to Villarreal agg:3-3,Villarreal go through on away goals rule) were unable to progress to the next round.

It was a great night for Arsenal, the fans, players and staff were looking happy at the beginning of the game, proud of their achievements at the Bernabeu a fortnight ago. Those happy feelings quickly disappeared when Real came flying out of the box. Unlike every other blog, I'm not going to talk about Ronaldo's inability to fit into a Real jersey any's quite scary.

Anyway, as the game went on, Arsenal got more and more into the game and by the half an hour mark, Arsenal were dominating possession, just like in Madrid. And just like in Madrid, a lot of glorious chances went to waste including a one-on-one situation between Reyes and Casillas, Reyes beat Casillas but couldn't keep his shot down and ended up hitting the crossbar.

At half time, the superstitious side of me kicked in. I badly wanted to wake my sister up, who is an Arsenal fan too(I live in Malaysia so the match is at 4am here), but I didn't want to jinx Arsenal, so I left her sleeping! And I'm sure I wasn't the only superstitious Gooner that night, I read about an Arsenal fan wearing his redcurrant under pants throughout the day just so lady luck would shine on Arsenal for one night.

So the second half begins, looked relatively normal till Real started pressing and you could finally see, over the 2 legs, a few holes in the defence! All Real's pressing didn't really force a save out of Lehmann. But just as Arsenal looked like getting back into the game, out of nowhere, Mr. Real Madrid himself- Raul Gonzalez hits a superb shot! The shot hits the inside of the post, the rebound is picked up by Raul again as he shoots at an open goal, Lehmann, though still recovering from the earlier shot manages to return to his goal and push Raul's shot away with his fingertips. To even things out, Henry forced a fingertip save out of Casillas too.

And finally no great 0-0 match could end without some drama, not 'Arjen Robben drama' but drama as in both team had chances in the final seconds to win the match. Real Madrid get a corner in the last minute of regulation time, Casillas decides that its now or never to try his luck in front of goal, he makes his way to the penalty box. The corner is crossed in, Casillas gets his head to ball but instead of heading it towards goal , he headed it straight at Pires, the French international runs like a...well, a French international. Casillas chases Pires but can't stop Pires from shooting from the half way line. His shot accurately heads towards goal, but as the ball get nearer to the goal, it losses its speed and Roberto Carlos recovers the ball and lobs it forward.

Now, Real are on the attack, players are piling up in the box, the ball falls to Robinho at the edge of the area, he shoots....Great save by Lehmann, diving to his right in time. And as the final whistle blew, I knew that I would remember Arsenal's last season at Highbury as the season we slayed the Galacticos of Real Madrid.

posted by highbury1913 @ 8:39 pm | |

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