Thursday, March 09, 2006

Champions League: Arsenal qualify for Quaterfinals

'The Gunners' finally managed to qualify for this season's Champions League Quaterfinals. I have been routing for Gunners for almost 7 years now and most of my football frenzy friends know how much I support these guys. It has been a disappointing year for Gunners with their lack lustre performance in English Premier League, especially after Patrick Vieira's exit from the club & the more recent episode of Sol Campbell being sidelined. The side has only few seasoned campaingers left and there are rumours that even Thierry Henry would move out of the club shortly. Despite all these things, 'The Gunners' put up a great show against the Spanish gaints Real Madrid in their second leg match played @ Highbury. The match can be compared to David Vs Goliath, because the current Arsenal team is composed more of young players with few senior players and on the other side, Real Madrid has some of the world's best talent who were chasing for their 10th League cup. But after having said all this, the beauty of 'Soccer' is that you can never predict the outcome of any match. Thats one of the reason why 'Soccer' is so fascinating and the most loved sport across the globe. If you don't believe me, then read this article, which justifies what I am saying.

Let me share some of the moments from yesterdays' game. Even though I managed to catch only the second half of the match, it was game filled with action like most of the Champions League matches. The score remained @ 0-0 during half-time and it was Arsenal who played their natural attacking game rather than Real Madrid. I say that because, Arsenal had 1-0 away goal advantage from their first leg match. Theirry Henry had couple of close shots on target, but couldn't clear Casillas. Real Madrid did counter attack, but they had one decent chance to go one-up, when they got a 25 mts free kick from the post. Roberto Carlos took the free kick and it was the acrobatic dive from Fredrik Ljunberg who managed to block the kick. During the dying minutes of the match, Real Madrid did try everything to score a goal and take the game for extra time. It was during last 5 mins of the match, where Real Madrid had won the corner and even the goalie Casillas came to help his team. Real Madrid didn't convert the corner, but Arsenal could have actually scored the goal, since Casillas was trying to run to his post, which could have left him embarassed. The effort of Roberto Carlos has to be lauded, who managed to pull the ball inches away from the goal line & saved the blushes for his goalie, otherwise it would have been 1-0 win for Arsenal.

The match finally ended goal-less, Arsenal winning on 1-0 aggregate and moving to the Quaterfinals of Champions League. BTW, Arsenal is the only English team left in the race to become the Champions of Europe. I hope it would be the something similar to last season, where Liverpool was the only English side left in the fray, who went on to win the Champions League.

Picture Courtesy: Arsenal-Mania

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