Still reeling from the recent ignominious Champions League exit against Bayern Munich? Don’t worry: you’re not alone. As the internal postmortem no doubt continues, we’ve tried to take our minds off Arsenal’s lopsided 2-10 aggregate defeat against the reigning Bundesliga champions by delving deep into the archives in the search of better days.
Today, join us as we relive some of the Gunners’ greatest European performances and best UEFA Champions League victories in recent memory.
Arsenal 2 – 1 Barcelona (2011)
February 16th, 2011 will go down in Arsenal history, as the Gunners recorded their first-ever victory over Barcelona. The Catalan side entered the 2010/2011 Champions League as strong favourites, having picked up their 20th domestic league title the previous season. And when David Villa scored on 26 minutes of the last-16 tie at the Emirates, the result seemed to be all but certain.
However, Arsenal rallied to record a stunning fight-back in the second half, with Robin van Persie equalising on 78 minutes before Andrey Arshavin emerged as the unlikely hero with the winner five minutes later. An out-of-sorts Lionel Messi couldn’t even save the day for Barca, and Arsenal clung on for a historic victory.
Inter Milan 1 – 5 Arsenal (2003)
Arsenal had come into their return 2003 group clash against Inter Milan on the back of a 3-0 defeat to the Italian giants at Highbury earlier in the season, and although their Premier League form was red hot, few could have anticipated the clash at the San Siro would end up the way it did.
The inimitable Thierry Henry netted on 25 minutes, before Inter pulled one back through Christian Vieri. However, the Gunners turned on the class and went on to ruthlessly demolish the home team in the second half, with further goals coming through Ljungberg, Edu, Henry – again – and Pires.“Not in my wildest dreams could we have predicted that sort of result,” manager Arsene Wenger admitted after the game. “After we’d lost 3-0 at home, who’d have thought we’d come here and win 5-1?”
Indeed, such a result could rarely have been predicted; football betting sites including 888sport had Bayern at odds of 40/1 to repeat their 5-1 drubbing recently – back in November 2003, you’d have likely seen an even higher return had you backed Arsenal to triumph by the same scoreline.
Real Madrid 0 – Arsenal 1 (2006)
Real Madrid may have had the likes of Zidane, Beckham, Robinho and Ronaldo amongst their ranks for their first knockout round clash against the Gunners at the Bernabeu in 2006 – but they didn’t have Thierry Henry.
Arsene Wenger’s underpowered side went into the first-leg tie as overwhelming underdogs, but managed to match the Galacticos every step of the way, with Henry producing a stunning solo strike shortly after the break to cement yet another historic Arsenal victory. By triumphing 1-0, the Gunners became the first English side ever to defeat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
A few weeks later, Arsenal clung on 0-0 at home to progress into the last eight; they eventually went down 2-1 in the final of that year’s tournament, in a brave albeit losing performance against Barcelona.
With so many great games to choose from, narrowing our selection down to only three matches was no easy task. Let us know which games you’d include amongst Arsenal’s greatest UEFA Champions League victories in the comments section below.