History: How Man United denied Arsenal a chance for a second Champions League Final in 2009

How Manchester United denied Arsenal potential Champions League Glory

During the 2008/09 season The Arsenal came close to reaching their second Champions League final, however their hopes were ripped out by Manchester United in the semi-finals.

Before they got that far though Arsene Wenger’s barmy army had to qualify to even get into the Champions’ League group stage. This was because the previous year the Gunners finished third in the Premier League where through their position they had no choice but to enter the Champions League third qualifying round.

In the third qualifying round Arsenal faced Dutch side FC Twente who they would end up dominating 6-0 after 180 minutes. Over in Arnhem The Tukkers were beaten by two second half goals through Robert Van Persie and Emanuel Adebayor with Arsenal running away with a 2-0 lead back to the Emirates. At home FC Twente were sideswiped 4-0 with ease, at halftime The Gunners led by a single goal through Samir Nasri where, come the final 45 minutes, William Gallas, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner rounded up the overall scoreboard.

At last Arsenal were in the group stages where they were destined to be the whole time, even before the qualifying round. Wenger’s side got off to a rough start drawing 1-1 in Ukraine against Dynamo Kiev, up until the final minutes of the match the home side were leading after an opener from Ismael Bangoura from the spot, but in the 88th minute Gallas equalised to rescue a point.

Arsenal finally tasted victory in their second game when FC Porto was breezed aside. Van Persie cracked the deadlock just past the half an hour mark before Adebayor netted the second not long before the break. In the Second half Van Persie grabbed a second and Adebayor the same with a penalty inside the 71st minute to seal off 4-0 for the night.

In late October Arsenal travelled away to play Turkish giants Fenerbache. The current 28 times Super Lig (Turkey’s top tier of football) winners would be shocked come the fulltime whistle! Within 11 minutes The Gunners were already two goals to the good after goals flew in from Walcott and his companion Adebayor, moments later Fener (The Beacon of Light) halved the deficit after Mikael Silvetre netted from the spot making it 2-1.  Arsenal was having none of that and three minutes later Abou Diaby handed his side a 3-1 safety net.  Within minutes of the second half Alex Song tripled The Gunners advantage just underneath the 50th minute mark to 4-1. FB hammered the nerves of Arsenal again slotting in a second via Dani Guiza on 78 minutes. A young Aaron Ramsey finished off the 5-2 demolition of one of the most respected sides in Turkish football history in the dying seconds of the contest.

Despite being heavily destroyed Fenerbache arrived at The Emirates with high morale where they held Wenger’s men to a 0-0 stalemate after 90 minutes.

Dynamo Kiev, who should’ve beaten Arsenal in their first group stage game, nearly stole four points off the North Londoners. It was looking as if it would go that way until Bendtner screamed in the 1-0 winner with only a handful of moments to spare.

The Gunners faced an unpleasant surprise over in Portugal with nearly 38,000 watching at the Estadio do Dragao. They would struggle to finish their final group stage game off with victory, Porto ended up crawling two past Arsenal thanks to efforts from Bruno Alves and Lisandro Lopez in a 2-0 tumbling.

After failing to jump over the last hurdle in Portugal Arsenal finished second in Group G to Porto.

In the knockout stage Wenger and Arsenal came up against one time European Cup/ Champions League runner ups AS Roma in the round of 16. The Gunners stole the 1-0 initiative in the first leg due to a first half Van Persie penalty.  In Italy at the Stadio Olimpico the opposite occurred The Gunners were beaten 1-0 through an early finish from Juan who took the game to extra-time and penalties, where a 7-6 shootout victory was claimed. Van Persie, Walcott, Nasri, Denilson, Diaby, Bacary Sagna and Kolo Toure all converted to escape the pressure of drawing 1-1 on aggregate.

Next, the Gunners were reunited with Villarreal who they had beaten 1-0 on aggregate in 2006 in the semi-finals to reach their one and only Champions League final to date. The Spaniards would prove a tricky opponent to crack down.  After ten minutes Arsenal fell prey to a Marcos Senna goal leaving it till almost an hour later to retaliate with a bang from Adebayor for a 1-1 draw. Arsenal put wrongs to right at The Emirates when Walcott this time sent The Gunners into the lead after ten minutes before Adebayor and Van Persie wrapped up the 3-0 victory.

Manchester United who were the current Champions League holders at the time after having just lifted their third and final Champions League trophy in 2008, after narrowly defeating Chelsea in an all English final for the first time, grinned up Arsenal in the semi-finals.

The Gunners faced The Red Devils at “The Theatre of Dreams” Old Trafford in the first leg. After some sloppy Arsenal defending John O’ Shea stroked in the winner from close range after only 18 minutes on the clock giving United the 1-0 advantage overall. The Gunners would get further outgunned at home a week later!

Within ten minutes of kickoff after even more calamitous defending from Arsenal Park Ji-Sung rode in the opener from inside the box. Three minutes later the Wenger boys were on their hands and knees when Cristiano Ronaldo added his name to the scoresheet, when he sent a free kick from just outside the area into the bottom left of Manuel Almunia’s goal empathically. It was clear at this points that Arsenal had no chance of gunning their way into the final.

Ronaldo added salt to the wound moments after the hour mark scoring from the edge of the box and sending his shot high into the net. Van Persie cracked in a consolation goal for Arsenal on 76 minutes from the penalty spot. Arsenal were beaten fair and square 3-1!

Arsenal have never been so close to a Champions League final almost 15 years later! Maybe they will get there this year?

Liam Harding

Life is good for us Arsenal fans right now

Watch the latest video from our friends at DublinArsenal celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Invincibles…

CALLING ALL ARSENAL FANS! Anyone who would like to contribute an Article or Video opinion piece on JustArsenal, please contact us through this link

Tags Champions League defeat
Top Blog Sponsors