Fàbregas leaves his mark on Highbury and Juventus

Highbury, London – 28/03/2006 – Quarter-finals
Arsenal
Arsenal
Fàbregas 40 Henry 69
2 - 0
Juventus
Juventus
Touch of genius

"If you let Cesc play he can kill a team." Thierry Henry

2005/06

• Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko – who ended the tournament with nine goals – became the fifth player to score four times in one match as AC Milan won 4-0 at Fenerbahçe SK on Matchday 5.

• RSC Anderlecht lost 2-0 to Chelsea FC the same night – the last of a record sequence of 12 successive UEFA Champions League defeats which ended with a 1-0 win at Real Betis Balompié a fortnight later.

• Arsenal FC – Jens Lehmann (648), Manuel Almunia (347) – went a record 995 minutes without conceding a UEFA Champions League goal before FC Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o breached the latter in the final.

Arsenal FC took a major step towards their first UEFA Champions League semi-final appearance with this memorable victory at Highbury.

Juventus were aiming to avoid defeat by English opposition for a second successive year, but the Vecchia Signora was made to feel her age after being dazzled by a zestful Gunners side. Fabio Capello's charges ultimately finished the evening two goals and as many men down.

Highbury crackled with excitement on what would be its penultimate European night, the Gunners' free-flowing football leaving the Turin giants chasing shadows for much of the game. Arsenal's performance was epitomised by the purposeful Cesc Fàbregas, who fired his side in front shortly before the interval and then set up Thierry Henry for an unanswered second-half strike.

It was an evening to forget for Patrick Vieira, returning for the first time to the club where he made his name. Jonathan Zebina and Mauro Camoranesi will have even less fond memories of the occasion after fouls in the last three minutes earned dismissals that cost them a place in the second leg eight days later.

Fábregas, whose side eliminated Real Madrid CF in the previous round, spurned an early chance after running on to Robert Pirès's clever back-heel. The 18-year-old, though, made amends when finishing off a sweeping move which begun with a tackle by Pirès on Vieira. Henry's slide-rule pass invited the Spaniard to shoot and his finish left Gianluigi Buffon, for once, rooted to the spot.

The 2003 UEFA Champions League finalists, shorn of the injured Alessandro Del Piero and the suspended Pavel Nedvěd, briefly sparked into life after the interval. However, once Zlatan Ibrahimović was denied an away goal by Kolo Touré's timely intervention, the visitors were subdued.

Their threat was extinguished once and for all when Fàbregas broke free again to tee up Henry. The hosts' attacking verve was matched by a defensive resilience that earned them their seventh straight clean sheet in the competition.

Star players

  • Fàbregas

    Arsenal FC's youngest ever player, Fàbregas won the 2005 FA Cup in his first full season and became the Gunners' midfield lynchpin following the sale of Patrick Vieira. Known for his outstanding vision and passing ability, the FC Barcelona youth product became club captain aged 21 after winning UEFA EURO 2008. He went on to star in Spain's 2010 FIFA World Cup victory, teeing up Andrés Iniesta's winner in the final.

  • Buffon

    Buffon made his debut for Parma FC aged 17 and won the first of over 100 Italy caps while still a teenager. His extraordinary reflexes and calm demeanour convinced Juventus to make the 1999 UEFA Cup winner the most world's most expensive goalkeeper in 2001, for €52m. The eight-time Serie A goalkeeper of the year helped the Bianconeri win league titles in 2001/02 and 2002/03 and Italy lift the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

  • Henry

    One of the most prolific players in Premier League history, Henry arrived at Arsenal an unwanted winger and left as the club's record scorer with 226 goals in 370 games. Part of the France squads that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000, he lifted two league titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners. Henry was a key member of the 'Invincibles' side that remained unbeaten throughout 2003/04.

What happened next?

• Arsenal FC went on to lose 2-1 to FC Barcelona in their maiden final. The Gunners, who had Jens Lehmann dismissed on 18 minutes, succumbed to late goals from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti.

• Sol Campbell opened the scoring in Paris, his last game before joining Portsmouth FC that summer. The central defender briefly returned to Arsenal, making 11 league appearances in 2009/10.

• Juventus were relegated from Serie A following Italy's sporting fraud trial but won immediate promotion back to the top flight, finishing six points clear at the Serie B summit the following season.

• Fabio Capello left Juventus in summer 2006 and took over at Real Madrid CF. He lasted only a season at the Bernabéu despite winning the Liga and became England manager in January 2008.

• Thierry Henry joined Barcelona after being restricted to only 17 league appearances in 2006/07. The France striker left Arsenal as the club's all-time leading scorer with 226 goals in 370 games.

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