Arsenal win European Cup semi-final, 1st leg.

Arsenal are on course to become the 2nd English team in successive seasons to reach the European Cup Final after they beat Villarreal 1-0 in the 1st leg of this Last 4 game. It means that Arsenal only need a draw in the 2nd leg in Spain to take them to the Final.

This was the last European game ever to be played at Highbury as Arsenal will move to their new Emirates Stadium next season.

Daily Mail

European Cup, Semi Final, 1st Leg.

Arsenal 1-0 Villarreal
Toure 40

Thierry Henry

Kolo Toure put Arsenal a step closer to the Champions League final as the Gunners beat Villarreal 1-0 on the last European night at Highbury.

The Gunners had pressed for long spells, and it was no more than they deserved when the Ivory Coast defender converted Alexander Hleb's cross from close range on 40 minutes.

Villarreal looked happy to sit back and try to use the counter-attack, but were unable to create too much and Arsenal could have made more of their possession.

The home side, though, were good value for their victory, which really should have been by a greater margin.
It looked like Villareal were auditioning for a diving tournament.
Arsenal through to the European Cup Final.

Villareal 0-0 Arsenal
(Arsenal win 1-0 on aggregate)

With just 2 minutes of the 90 to go, with Villarreal needing to score, one of their players cheats by diving in the penalty area. The referee, thinking he was fouled, awarded Villarreal a penalty. If it was scored, the game would have gone to 30 minutes of extra time, even though Arsenal were two minutes away from going through.

Villarreal's Riquelme took the penalty kick (with Blackleaf hardly being able to look) - and it was beautifully saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann. If it went in, it would have been a travesty for Arsenal, having to play extra time because of the cheating Spanish.

3 minutes later, the full time whistle went, and the London team are in the Final. Hero Lehmann was mobbed by the Arsenal players at the end of the game.

It's now two seasons in a row that an English team has reached the European Cup Final, and they'll play either Barcelona or AC Milan in the Final.
Chelsea's gonna give their butts!
That was about the most boring game I've seen Arsenal play since George Graham was there.

But no matter. They're off to play Barca in the final.

Hope they win.
European Cup

The Times April 26, 2006

Hero: Arsenal goalkepper Lehmann saves Requelme's 89th minute penalty.

From Matt Hughes in Vila-Real

He stops late penalty
Goalless draw enough for Arsenal

AFTER watching Jens Lehmann save an 89th-minute penalty to take Arsenal through to the Champions League final, Arsène Wenger believes that his side’s name is on the trophy. On a nerve-shredding night in southern Spain, the visiting team held theirs when it mattered most to get the goalless draw that preserved their 1-0 first-leg lead against Villarreal, giving Wenger a romantic date in Paris on May 17. That Thierry Henry could face his suitors Barcelona, who lead AC Milan 1-0 ahead of tonight’s second leg in the Nou Camp, only increases the sense of a date of destiny.

Arsenal’s progress in this competition has resembled a fairytale throughout, though it took the outstanding efforts of Lehmann to prevent the dream turning into a nightmare. Having repelled the utterly dominant Spaniards all evening he faced one final test of strength, standing firm after Villarreal had been given a fortunate penalty for Gaël Clichy’s challenge on José Mari.

“I thought to myself ‘if it’s our year, Jens will save it,’ ” Wenger said. “Maybe the strength of character of Jens came through. I knew he would not be beaten easily. We go to the final and you will see a different Arsenal team.

“There was always a big doubt about Arsenal in Europe, even when we were dominating the championship. I’m happy we got through when nobody expected us to. We knocked out Real Madrid, Juventus and Villarreal and I believe we can win the final. I would say it completes the work of nine-and-a-half years. The best way to reward them now is to go to the final and win it.”

As a German goalkeeper, Lehmann makes an unlikely hero for what remains — no matter what the Little Englanders say — an English club, but he does have previous. The 36-year-old’s save from Paul Scholes helped Arsenal to win the FA Cup on penalties last May, while he also won the Uefa Cup for Schalke 04 in a 1997 shoot-out. The madcap antics that caused him to be dropped for the hapless Manuel Almun ia last season now seem a long time ago.

“What he has done tonight shows what a great goalkeeper he has been all season,” Wenger said. “When you think where he started when he came to England and the steps he has made he deserves a lot of credit. I made the right decision dropping him last season.”

Lehmann put it more colourfully, as is his wont — “When you’re in football you can be very close to being in hell, but can rise to heaven just like that,” he said — while Clichy’s words epitomised his relief. “If you ask me who is my favourite player in the world at the minute, it’s Jens Lehmann,” the young French defender said.

Wenger admitted that his side were slightly fortunate to progress, having failed to find their usual fluency, though their ecstatic fans will not be worried.

Tottenham Hotspur supporters may be, though, with the danger of Arsenal stealing their Champions League place a distinct possibility.

“I was worried, but we’ve shown a lot of character and resilience tonight,” Wenger said. “With a little bit of luck and a lot of character we’ve gone through.

“I’m happy to be in Paris. I thought before the game it was a bad sign because the last final in Paris was between two Spanish teams. I’m very happy, but would go anywhere in the world to play in a Champions League final. It will cost me a few more tickets to play in Paris.”

After enduring a tortuous time in a club built on the ceramic industry, Arsenal fans deserved their night on the tiles and will look forward to getting plastered in Paris.
Quote: Originally Posted by Toro

That was about the most boring game I've seen Arsenal play since George Graham was there.

But no matter. They're off to play Barca in the final.

Hope they win.

It was boring - except for the last minute Villarreal penalty which shouldn't have been awarded and the 90 minutes of nervousness that I felt whilst watching it.
With the silly headlines that British newspapers have, it's no surprise that in The Mirror's sports section is the headline "SUPERMANN" and shows a picture of goalkeeper Lehmann raising his arms in the air in triumph. The first line of the report says "Who would have thought that English football would fall in love with a German?"

And Villarreal are nicknamed "The Yellow Submarine" by their fans because they play in all yellow and have a cartoon of a yellow submarine firing torpedoes at an unseen enemy on an outside wall of their stadium, so there is BOUND to be, in one of the British newspapers, a headline that reads something like "ENGLAND'S ARSENAL SINKS SPAIN'S YELLOW SUBMARINE."