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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Arsenal in the Final

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There's no doubt it was goalkeeper Jens Lehmann most beautiful night. He was Arsenal's hero as they reached the final of the Champions League after a 0-0 draw against Villarreal.

The German number one stopped Juan Roman Riquelme's 89th minute penalty as the Gunners hung on to progress 1-0 on aggregate and will now play in Paris on May 17th against the winner of Barcelona vs AC Milan.

Thierry Henry's team had hung on for much of the match as they sat back and created little in the way of opportunities for themselves.

The Gunners suffered an early blow as Mathieu Flamini was forced off inside the opening seven minutes and Gael Clichy, returning for his first appearance since breaking his foot in November, replaced him.

Despite Arsenal's cautious approach, the Spanish side's first real chance didn't arrive until the 17th minute when good play on the Villarreal left created the chance for Sorin but the Argentine hit his shot from ten yards straight at keeper Lehmann.

Also Guillermo Franco was close to gave Villarreal the lead on the night five minutes before the break as he got the wrong side of Kolo Toure but Lehmann saved well from his header.

The Yellow submarine increasingly threatened in the second-half and Franco and former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan both had great chances to draw the Spanish side level.

However, when it seemed as if the Gunners might just hang on, a long ball into the area saw Clichy make the slightest of contacts with substitute Jose Mari and the referee awarded the penalty.

It was Lehmann to the rescue though as he kept out Riquelme's penalty low to his left to help Arsenal FC reach the final game.