Arsenal’s Four Best Second-Leg Champions League Performances

Arsenal have known nothing but pain in the UEFA Champions League. Between 2011 and 2017, the Gunners were eliminated in the Round of 16 in seven consecutive campaigns. This year, it looked as though things would be different.

After topping their group ahead of PSV Eindhoven, the North London outfit secured a favourable draw against FC Porto in the second round. Despite being one of the dominant forces in Portugal, the 2005 winners have struggled somewhat this term and are way down in third place in the league table, seven points behind league leaders Benfica. As such, Mikel Arteta’s men headed into the contest as heavy favourites.

But as they have seemed to do consistently in Europe’s elite competition, Arsenal struggled to break down the hosts and succumbed to a last-minute 1-0 defeat. Now, they have it all to do in the second leg, but the bookies still fancy their chances, and many fans are still staking bets on them. Websites such as Bodog sports betting site have made the Premier League contenders a +650 third favourite to lift the famous big-eared trophy this season, behind Manchester City and Real Madrid. If they are to live up to the billing, they will need a massive second-leg performance against Porto.

But The Gunners have delivered exactly that over the years, including against the Portuguese outfit. Here are four of Arsenal’s best Champions League second-leg results in years gone by.

Arsenal 5-0 FC Porto (6-2 aggregate) – 2010

Back in 2010, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal also trailed Porto by a single goal heading into the second leg of their last-16 encounter. And if they deliver a similarly destructive display this season as they did 13 years ago, they will certainly progress to the quarterfinals.

This game was a masterclass in attacking football, with the Gunners showing their flair and prowess on the European stage. Coming into the match 2-1 down from the first leg, the pressure was on the hosts for a strong showing at The Emirates. What followed was a display of football that had the home faithful roaring as Nicklas Bendtner’s hat-trick overwhelmed the Portuguese visitors.

AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal (0-2 aggregate) – 2008

A triumph etched in the hearts of Gooners around the world, the win over AC Milan back in 2008 was nothing short of historic. They approached the second leg at the San Siro with cautious optimism, knowing that despite not managing to find the breakthrough against the reigning champions in the first leg in North London, a single away goal could shift the balance in their favour. And that is exactly what happened. 

With the game finally poised at 0-0 once again, with just minutes remaining, the defining moment arrived as captain Cesc Fabregas rattled home a 30-yard screamer in the 84th minute. It was his leadership that dragged his team forward and found a deserved opener before Emmanuel Adebayor settled the contest in the last minute, following brilliant work from a teenage Theo Walcott.

Bayern Munich 0-2 Arsenal (3-3 aggregate) – 2013

In the round of sixteen-second leg against Bayern Munich, Arsenal demonstrated a character that encapsulates the club’s ethos. Pitted against the German powerhouse, the Gunners needed nothing short of a miracle after a 3-1 defeat in the first leg.

Olivier Giroud gave the visitors hope in the third minute when he gave his team the lead on the night, but Wenger’s men were unable to find a crucial second as the tie progressed. That second eventually came in the 84th minute through French defender Laurent Koscielny, but it seemed too little too late. Ultimately that proved to be the case, but not before Arsenal squandered a last-gasp chance to secure the victory.

Ultimately, the Gunners exited the tournament on away goals, while Bayern went on to win the competition for the first time in over a decade. They defeated rivals Borussia Dortmund in an all-German final at Wembley thanks to Arjen Robben’s late winner.

Arsenal 3-0 Villareal (4-1 aggregate) – 2009

Often overshadowed by their dramatic semifinal victory in 2006, Arsenal’s 2009 drubbing of Villareal in the 2009 quarterfinals was similarly impressive. Three years prior, Jens Lehmann saved a last-minute penalty from Juan Roman Riquelme to send the Gunners to the Champions League final at the debuting Yellow Submarine’s expense. This time around, the Spaniards were out for revenge, but it looked as though they had a tough task ahead of them after having to settle for a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

And that is exactly how it turned out. Walcott gave the hosts the lead on the night and in the tie in the tenth minute before things began to get a little nervy. Then those nerves were calmed on the hour mark as Adebayor doubled the lead, before a van Persie penalty nine minutes later ended the contest once and for all. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got, as Arsenal were eliminated by rivals Manchester United in the semifinals after a masterful performance from a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

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