Barcelona strike late to claim Champions League title over Arsenal
FC Barcelona made use of an early red card
to Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, coming from a goal down to defeat
the Gunners 2-1 in the 2005/06 Champions League final, claiming their
first European title since 1992.
Early on, Arsenal had a glorious chance to take the lead as Thierry
Henry was bellowing down on the Barcelona goal, but goalkeeper Víctor
Valdés was on hand to knock the ball away at the feet of the French
striker. The Spaniard then immediately had to be on his toes again to
stop a shot by Henry.
Barcelona nearly took the lead after 12 minutes when they were awarded a
free kick over 30 yards from goal, but the effort by Ronaldinho curved
just wide of Jens Lehmann's post. The goalkeeper was on hand five
minutes later to stop an attempt by Deco to take the lead.
In the 19th minute, it appeared to be a 1-0 Barcelona lead as Ludovic
Giuly rolled the ball into the net after Samuel Eto'o was hauled down by
Referee Terje Hauge, though, chose not to play the advantage. Rather, he
awarded a free kick to Barcelona and issued a red card to the German
number one, forcing Manuel Almunia off the bench at the expense of
Barcelona players and supporters, though, will feel slighted not to have
been awarded the goal scored by Giuly after the referee chose to stop
Just as Barcelona sprung to life and began enjoying plenty of time in
the attacking half of the pitch, Arsenal and their ten men grabbed the
lead as England defender Sol Campbell rose highest to head home a
Thierry Henry free kick in the 37th minute.
The free kick though was another dubious decision as Carles Puyol was
adjudged to have fouled Emmanuel Eboué, but replays showed no such
Two minutes into added time, Barcelona were just inches away from an
equalizer as Eto'o turned and fired a shot in on goal, but substitute
goalkeeper Almunia managed to get a hand to it, and the ball deflected
off of the post.
Three minutes into the second half, Barcelona enjoyed possession almost
exclusively in the Arsenal half and Deco found some space in the middle
to unleash a 20-yard shot, but it was right at Almunia who secured the
Substitute Andrés Iniesta was then the next to test Almunia as he made a
fine run right up the middle in the 53rd minute, but the goalkeeper was
equal to the shot and made the save to preserve the Gunners' lead.
Arsenal rarely looked dangerous, but they launched a counterattack
through Cesc Fabregas on the left in the 63rd minute and the ball made
its way to Alekandser Hleb, but the Belarussian fired his shot wide.
Seven minutes later, Arsenal had a chance to put the match away after
being played through alone on the goal by Hleb, but he doesn't put his
best effort on it and it was saved by a sliding Valdés.
The advantage in manpower for Barcelona, though, finally paide off after
77 minutes when Eto'o was played through on the left by a nice Henrik
Larsson flick, and the Cameroonian squeezed the ball inside Almunia's
near post to level the match at 1-1.
The goal was the first allowed by Arsenal in 11 Champions League games.
Four minutes later, the final was turned on its head as the most
unlikely of sources gave Barcelona a 2-1 lead.
Larsson sent in a ball toward the near post as fellow substitute Juliano
Belletti made a nice cutting run inside to latch on and he fired a shot
that went between Almunia's legs and into the roof of the net.
Barcelona then began to play a bit more cautiously and withstood every
Arsenal could give them to claim their second-ever Champion Clubs' Cup.