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Arsenal vs Villarreal 2006 (agg 1-0): Recalling the Champions League semifinal

Recalling Arsenal’s memorable match against Villarreal that saw them qualify for the Champions League final.

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Kolo Toure celebrates his goal with Fabregas and Senderos. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal had eliminated Juventus with a 2-0 aggregate victory before they faced Villarreal in the semifinal of the 2005/2006 Champions League.

The first leg was played at the Arsenal stadium in Highbury, this was Arsenal’s final European game at the legendary stadium.

Arsenal starting XI: Lehmann; Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini; Hleb, Gilberto, Fabregas; Pires; Ljungberg Henry.

Arsenal started the game with no English player and the only English player was Theo Walcott who was on the bench.

The Gunners got the solo and winning goal of the tie in the 41st minute when Alex Hleb’s cross was turned home by Kolo Toure.

The second leg was played at the El Madrigal in Villarreal, Arsenal made only two changes to the side that had won at Highbury. Sol Campbell replaced Senderos and Jose Reyes (RIP) started ahead of Roberto Pires.

Arsenal were on the defensive side for most of the game and conceded a late penalty that was fortunately saved by Jens Lehmann. Lehmann’s heroics ensured that Arsene Wenger’s men would play their first Champions League final against Barcelona.

Lehmann saves Riquelme’s penalty. (AFP via Getty Images)

Three years later the two sides met again in the 2008/09 Champions League quarterfinal. Wenger’s boys this time comfortably came out on top with a 4-1 aggregate victory.

Now Arteta’s men will be hoping that they can replicate their predecessors results against Villarreal over two legs and qualify for their second Europa League final.

A keen follower and fan of Arsenal since the mid-2000s with passion for the game. I aim to write honest and interesting articles about the club I love, and to share my opinions with as many other fans as possible.

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