History: How Arsenal failed narrowly to retain the European Cup-Winners Cup in 1995

How Arsenal failed to retain the Cup Winners Cup

In 1995 Arsenal lost their grip on the European Cup Winners Cup. After having beaten Palma 1-0 in the previous year’s final Real Zaragoza stole the trophy off the hands of the North Londoners in Paris.

The Gunners commenced their opening tie of the competition against Cypriot club Omonia in the first round. In the first leg Paul Merson fired Arsenal into the lead minutes before the break where on 50 minutes Ian Wright doubled the advantage, however Omonia retaliated with nearly three quarters of the game gone when one of the greatest Cyrpiot players ever to live netted Costas Malekkos who pulled one back for Omonia. Merson got the last laugh for Arsenal inside the final ten minutes of the match to secure the 3-1 victory. Two weeks later under the lights at Highbury George Graham’s side took down Omonia 3-0, Wright scored on either side of halftime alongside Stefan Schwarz sealing off victory.

In the second round The Gunners were pulled out of the hat against Danish giants Brondby IF. Wright made it 1-0 to Arsenal within the first 20 minutes of the first European toss up, where within minutes of the first Alan Smith who had grabbed The North Londoners their 1994 Cup Winners Cup achievement made it two goals to the good. Early on in the second half the boys from Vestegnen made it 2-1 which was how the 90 minutes finished away from home. In the second leg at home Bo Jannick Nyby Hansen handed Brondby an unexpected lead to put Arsenal on their knees, however on 27 minutes Wright fought back to make it 1-1. A minute into the second half Ian Selley put Arsenal into a 2-1 lead which remained for the next 25 minutes before Dan Eggen slotted in the 2-2 leveller before The Gunners saw off the tie 4-3 on aggregate.

French team Auxerre would turn out to be far from easy to beat in the quarter-finals. At Highbury Arsenal were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw, after taking the lead through Wrighty on the hour mark Frank Verlaat struck back for AJA three minutes later taking the second leg back to France where The Gunners had a point to prove to themselves. In front of 22,000 spectators Arsenal took an early lead, all thanks to Wright seeing them hold on tight for a narrow 2-1 victory overall.

Well known Italian outfit Sampdoria awaited Arsenal in the semi-finals. At Highbury Steve Bould was on fire for The Gunners grabbing two goals within minutes of another to jump The Gunners into a 2-0 advantage. The Blue circled team were far from content with Vladimir Jugovic scoring to give Arsenal a shock but despite this Wright bounced back for The Gunners making it 3-1 before Jugovic found a quick reply despite an eventual 3-2 win. Over at the Stadio Luogi Ferraris stadium Sampdoria found themselves a goal up through Roberto Mancini who later lifted Manchester City their first Premier League in history as manager. Wright put Arsenal back in the game inside the 61st minute however within the space of three minutes Claudio Bellucci made it 3-1 over Arsenal with their hopes of another European final hanging by the thread on aggregate. In the dying moments of the match Schwarz scored Arsenals second in the 3-2 defeat which took the tie to extra-time with the score being 5-5 on aggregate. With half an hour failing to divide both sides Graham’s Gunners clinched victory on penalties empathically with John Hartson, Tony Adams and Lee Dixon scoring from the spot.

In the final at the Parc des Princes Los Manos kept Arsenal on their back where by halftime the scoreline was yet to be broken. With the 70th minute approaching Juan Esnaider tackled Arsenal single Handily slotting Real Zaragoza 1-0 up. Nevertheless in less than ten minutes the ground was shaking when Hartson scraped in the 1-1 equaliser to renew the Gunners hopes of silverware. In the final minutes of extra-time the Spanish men forced Arsenal to finally surrender 2-1 with 43,000 fans watching. The Gunners had officially lost their title of European Cup Winners Cup holders with their dreams of winning the trophy coming to a Spanish halt.

Liam Harding

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  1. Arsenal need to score early tonight against park the bus porto, but must also be aware of the over the top long pass to catch us out on the counter attack.

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