UEFA Champions League

April 19, 2006



1 - 0


UEFA Champions League

18:45 +00:00, April 19, 2006

Highbury, England

  • 92'

    Thanks, everyone. Be sure to come back to Soccernet next week for two intriguing semi-final second legs. Goodnight.

  • 92'

    Villarreal are very strong at home and will feel confident about turning the result around next Tuesday. But, Arsenal just need an away goal to leave the Spaniards needing three to progress to the final. It really is on a knife-edge.

  • 92'

    FULL-TIME: Toure's goal at the end of the first half gives Arsenal a narrow advantage, but the Gunners never really got in to their stride. Villarreal will probably be reasonably happy on their trip back to Spain.

  • 91'

    VILLARREAL SUB: Forlan is replaced as the visitors try to waste a little more time, with the final whistle looming.

  • 89'

    It's a difficult result to assess, really: Villarreal never really allowed Arsenal to get going, but Toure's strike does give Wenger's side a crucial advantage going in to next week.

  • 88'

    CHANCE! Bergkamp picks up the half-clearance from his own free-kick, and curls a better cross back in to the area; Senderos throws himself at the ball, just taking it off the boot of Toure behind him.

  • 87'

    Henry robs Arvalrez, 35 yards out; the Villarreal skipper is forced to bring down his Arsenal counter-part, and is promptly booked.

  • 86'

    OVER! OFF-SIDE ANYWAY! Franco heads Riquelme's free-kick narrowly over the crossbar, though it wouldn't have counted anyway - the off-side flag was raised.

  • 85'

    Senderos deals well with a short back-pass, side-stepping Senna before clearing with his left foot. He has been very composed.

  • 84'

    The Arsenal fans seem a little restless, as though they're not really sure whether a single-goal advantage is going to be enough to take to Spain next week.

  • 83'

    Riquelme hasn't been able to impose himself on the game at all really, and credit for that has to go mainly to Gilberto, who has marshalled him well all evening.

  • 82'

    Bergkamp's first contribution is to curl in one of the better crosses of the evening, but Barbosa comes off his line to claim in front of Henry.

  • 81'

    Both Arsenal and Villarreal are still looking for a goal as we enter the final stages, and a goal for either side here would turn the tie on its head.

  • 80'

    ARSENAL SUBS: Hleb is replaced by Bergkamp, and Ljungberg comes off to be replaced by Robin Van Persie. Two attacking changes from Wenger, who looks to be keen on getting a second goal to make this tie more secure.

  • 79'

    Eboue does really well to beat his man and find some more space down the right flank, but his cross in to the penalty area is over-hit.

  • 78'

    Arsenal seem to be preparing a couple of changes to freshen things up for the final ten minutes.

  • 77'

    There is a spot of rain in the air now, but nothing really to worry about.

  • 76'

    Arruabarrena is warned by the referee after his third or fourth foul in the space of just a couple of minutes.

  • 75'

    Alvarez seems to have overcome his turned ankle; he is back in the heart of the Villarreal defence and running freely.

  • 75'

    Credit must still go to Villarreal for restricting Arsenal to just a couple of flowing passing moves; they have been really well organised, in general.

  • 74'

    Henry has a few words to say to Josico as the two tussle in the centre-circle; Henry hasn't really shone tonight.

  • 73'

    The tempo of the game has slowed considerably over the last ten minutes or so; Arsenal perhaps have mentally settled for this result, and don't want to over-commit searching for a second goal.

  • 72'

    VILLARREAL SUB: Sorin is replaced by Josico; Sorin hasn't had the chance to show what he can do tonight, and is replaced by the experienced central midfielder for the final twenty minutes or so.

  • 71'

    Pires has worked hard tonight; he has had to graft and battle in the centre of midfield to try and keep Arsenal on top, but hasn't shirked his duties.

  • 70'

    Riquelme curls a free-kick in to the penalty area, but Forlan is ruled off-side.

  • 69'

    Fabregas' cross finds its way to Henry on the far side of the area; he tricks two men before curling over a left-footed cross, but Arsenal have only Ljungberg in the area and the danger passes.

  • 68'

    Another Villarreal player is down on the groundl it's Alvarez, who seemed to fall badly on his ankle after going up for a header.

  • 67'

    SAVE! Senna slips past a challenge in midfield and fires in a left-foot shot; Lehmann doesn't want to take a chance on the ball going wide and makes a smart save to his left.

  • 65'

    Ljungberg sportingly puts the ball out after spotting Tacchinardi on the turf after an accidental collision with Henry.

  • 64'

    Eboue combines briliantly with Gilberto down the right; he sprints at the full-back and feeds a pass in to the run of Pires, but the Frenchman has drifted an inch or two off-side.

  • 63'

    Hleb is caught narrowly off-side as he tries to get on the end of Gilberto's clever chip over the top of the Villarreal defence.

  • 62'

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger holds his head in his hands for a moment in the home dug-out; it is a really tense time for everyone inside Highbury.

  • 61'

    Villarreal have only really threatened once in the second half, despite looking like they want to commit a few more people forward as they look for an equaliser.

  • 60'

    Tacchinardi is booekd for a sliding tackle from behind on Hleb; it means that the Italian midfielder will miss the second leg of this tie, next Tuesday.

  • 59'

    Arsenal fans will be delighted to know thet both Gael Clichy and Ashley Cole completed 90 minutes in a reservee-team game this afternoon; they could even be match-fit for the second leg of this tie.

  • 58'

    Arsenal have played some excellent football since the break; they are knocking the ball around with real flair and movement, and will be keen to cement their authority with a second goal.

  • 57'

    RUBBISH! Henry is played in by Hleb through the middle; he takes his shot early, but his left-foot shot is tame and straight at Barbosa.

  • 56'

    OFF THE LINE! Eboue gets to the by-line after a superb passing move from the Gunners; he plays the ball back to Henry, who tries to direct the ball goalwards, but Arzo gets back to head away from under his crossbar.

  • 55'

    VILLARREAL SUB: Jose Mari is replaced by Franco. The Mexican forward comes on to replace Jose Mari to give the visitors a bit more up front for the final half-hour or so.

  • 55'

    Henry lands heavily after challenging for a header with Alvarez; he winces a little as he gets to his feet, but is soon back in the thick of the action.

  • 54'

    Jose Mari finds some space on the left; he cuts inside a curls a low cross in to the middle, but it is a couple of yards in front of Forlan and Lehmann collects.

  • 53'

    It is now over 13 hours since Arsenal conceded a goal in the Champions League, against Ajax in Amsterdam in September of last year. A great effort for such a young defence.

  • 52'

    Riquelme fires the corner in to the near post; Sorin flicks on, but Toure manages to clear from inside his own six-yard box. A close shave for the home side.

  • 51'

    Senna's low shot is deflected on the way through by the boot of Senderos; Villarreal win their second corner of the evening.

  • 50'

    Jose Mari looks baffled as a free-kick decision goes against him; he has been quite hard done-by this evening, I think, although he does make a meal of a lot.

  • 49'

    NICE MOVE! A good passing move from the home side sees the ball worked to Gilberto, but he blazes his shot over the crossbar from 25 yards out.

  • 48'

    OVER! Taccinardi fires a right-foot shot over Lehmann's crossbar from 25 yards out. No threat to the Arsenal goal.

  • 47'

    Villarreal have a couple of attacking options on the bench; Guayre is a good forward-thinking player; we'll be seeing him at some point soon, I'm sure.

  • 46'

    Pires' loose pass is cut out by Sorin; Villarreal look to have come out with the bit between their teeth.

  • 45'

    Villarreal kick off the second half; can they get a crucial away goal, or will Arsenal extend their lead? Stay here, and find out...

  • 47'

    HALF-TIME: Toure's goal gives Arsenal a half-time lead, but Villarreal have threatened on a few occasions and will be disappointed not to go in level.

  • 46'

    Villarreal are adament they should have had a penalty as Jose Mari is scythed down just inside the area by Gilberto. A lifeline for the home side; that was a certain spot-kick.

  • 45'

    GOOD EFFORT! Riquelme fires in a free-kick from 35 yards; it seems to swerve in the air and Lehmann is forced to punch clear.

  • 44'

    The goal seems to have given Arsenal a bit more confidence; they are knocking the ball about with more belief now.

  • 43'

    Highbury exploded as Toure slid that cross past Barbosa and in to the far corner; the fans are really starting to believe that this might be their year.

  • 42'

    Big goal for the Gunners; it should certainly settle a few nerves and mean that Villarreal begin to open up a bit.

  • 41'

    GOAL! Arsenal grab the lead after a half of frustration as Toure turns in Hleb's low cross after a corner was only half-cleared.

  • 40'

    Another Arsenal corner as Cesar Arzo, who has been excellent in the first half, despite a very early booking, cuts out Henry's low cross from the by-line.

  • 39'

    Arsenal have certainly had the better of the half, and have caused a couple of moments of panic in the Villarreal defence, but the visitors have generally defended excellently.

  • 38'

    Pires goes in a little late on Cesar Arzo as he tried to chase down a short pass-back. The young Villarreal defender stays down for moment or two, but is soon back on his feet.

  • 37'

    GETTING CLOSER! Henry is isolated on his own, but he still manages to fire in a low cross that Arruabarrena has to deal with inside his own six-yard box.

  • 36'

    ALMOST! Forlan gets on to Riquelme's excellent pass over the top of the Arsenal defence, but his cut-back is touched to safety by Lehmann, with Sorin waiting.

  • 35'

    There has been a couple of excellent last-ditch blocks from the Villarreal defenders; they look really determined to keep their goal in tact.

  • 34'

    BLOCK! The corner again causes panic in the area, but a Villarreal man throws himself at Senderos' shot and the ball is deflected just over the crossbar for another corner.

  • 33'

    JUST WIDE! Pires sprints on as the ball ricochets in to the Villarreal area, but Cesar Arzo makes a heroic block to put the ball out for a corner.

  • 32'

    Arsenal are trying to keep the tempo as high as possible, trying to play the game at a typical, Premiership pace, but at the moment it isn't really working for them.

  • 31'

    Good pressure from Sorin earns his side a throw, deep in the Arsenal half; again Eboue is on hand to deal with the danger and clear.

  • 30'

    Jose Mari is caught late from behind bty Eboue; the Arsenal man is spoken to as Jose Mari receives a bit of treatment.

  • 29'

    It took them a few minutes, but Villrreal look to be really well organised in defence and midfield; Arsenal won't find it easy to break them down tonight.

  • 28'

    A rare loose pass from Riquelme breaks up a potentially dangerous Villarreal attack. Everything is going through the Argentinian play-maker for the visitors.

  • 27'

    Sorin, Jose Mari and Riquelme combine to put a bit of pressure on Eboue, but the young full-back copes well with the threat and slides the ball out for a throw.

  • 25'

    GOOD HANDS! Riquelme fires in a low shot from the set-piece, but Lehmann is positioned well on his goal-line and gathers the ball.

  • 25'

    A foul by Toure gives Riquelme an excellent shooting chance; he lines up the free-kick, 30 yards out...

  • 24'

    After a very strong start, Arsenal are struggling a little to find their passing range at present as Villarreal begin to come in to the game more and more.

  • 23'

    Senderos is put under pressure from Jose Mari, who manages to block his clearance; Forlan tries to get on the loose ball, but Lehmann comes out of his goal to slide the ball out of play for a throw. Nervy moment for the home side.

  • 22'

    Fabregas can't control Eboue's pass on the edge of the penalty area, and the visitors break-up the attack.

  • 21'

    Ljungberg hits the side-netting from a very tight angle as he sprinted on to Henry's through-ball; there was really no chance he could have hit the target from such an acute angle.

  • 20'

    The referee is certainly doing his best to try and allow play to continue as much as possible; on a few occasions, he has waved 'play-on' as a Villarreal player hits the grass under a challenge.

  • 19'

    Play is stopped for a minute when the referee deems that the squirrel is too much of a distraction for the players. He soon scuttles off between the advertising boards, and play goes on.

  • 18'

    Riquelme fires a free-kick in to the penalty area, aiming for Arruabarrena, but Hleb heads clear at the back post.

  • 17'

    Villarreal have started to find their feet now after a shakey start; they are getting more of the ball in more dangerous areas and seem to be defending a little better.

  • 16'

    Villarreal win their first corner of the match as Forlan's attempted cross from the right flank is deflected behind by Flamini.

  • 15'

    Arruabarrena is getting forward a lot down this left-hand side; Eboue will have to watch his runs in behind him.

  • 14'

    A squirrel is spotted darting across the Highbury turf; very strange. He doesn't look at all phased by the cheers of the crowd as he stops and takes in the atmosphere.

  • 13'

    Replays show that Henry seemed to be level when he was played in by Pires; a tough break on the home side, who have started this tie very well.

  • 12'

    OFF-SIDE! Pires feeds Henry with a nice through-ball and the Arsenal skipper slides his shot under the goalkeeper. But his celebrations are cut short by an off-side flag from the linesman.

  • 11'

    OVER! Henry sends the set-piece in to the middle, but Senderos, in a yard of space in the penalty area, heads over the crossbar.

  • 11'

    Arsenal win another corner when Henry feeds Eboue inside the area, and his cross is deflected behind.

  • 10'

    Forlan almost finds Jose Mari with a good-looking ball in between the Arsenal centre-backs, but Senderos comes across to intercept and clear the danger.

  • 9'

    Gilberto heads Henry's corner goalwards, but it bounces up off the hard turf and floats a couple of yards wide of the post.

  • 8'

    It's been a quiet start from the two real 'stars' tonight, Henry adn Riquelme; both sides are really snapping in to each other in the early minutes.

  • 7'

    SHOT! Forlan's ambitious 25-yard shot flies high and wide of Lehmann's crossbar, prompting jeers from the Arsenal faithful.

  • 6'

    Gilberto collects after Sorin is adjudged to have dived inside the centre-circle; Arsenal counter, but Fabregas' little chip is easily collected by the goalkeeper.

  • 5'

    Arruabarenna is caught off-side as he tries to get on the end of Jose Mari's pass down the left wing; an attacking start from the Villarreal full-back.

  • 4'

    CHANCE! WIDE! Henry's free-kick causes panic in the area; it drops to Toure, but he slashes his shot wide from six yards out. Great chance.

  • 3'

    Flamini is brought down by Cesar Arzo. The young centre-back is booked; a terrible start for the 20-year-old. Free-kick to Arsenal...

  • 3'

    Great play from Fabregas as he nutmegs Senna in midfield before trying to find Henry with a defence-splitting pass.

  • 2'

    The average age of the Arsenal back four is just 22; will they have the experience and temperament to keep out Riquelme and co?

  • 1'

    Arsenal kick off this historic night in north London.


    The players are lining up out on the famous Highbury turf, and the Champions League anthem is belting out over the stadium PA. What a night!


    Highbury stages its last European tie after 93 years tonight as Arsenal look to secure their place in the Champions League final for the first time in their history.


    Hi, friends, welcome to ESPN Soccernet's coverage of Villarreal's trip to Arsenal for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.