EUROPA LEAGUE: A history of Arsenal v Valencia
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Arsenal face Valencia in the Europa League semi-final first-leg at the Emirates on tonight. It will be the sixth time the two sides have met in Europe, but how have the Gunners faired in previous games?
Arsenal 0-0 Valencia (4-5 on penalties), May 1980, Cup Winners’ Cup final
The two sides met for the first time in Belgium, at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, when they squared off in the final of the 1979/80 Cup Winners’ Cup.
Both sides had knocked out some big names en route to the showpiece, with Arsenal beating the likes of Fenerbache and Juventus – famously becoming the first British side to win in Turin – while Valencia had knocked out both Rangers and Barcelona.
Managed by Real Madrid legend, Alfredo Di Stefano, Los Ches had the 1978 FIFA World Cup top scorer Mario Kempes in their ranks, but it was the Gunners who had the games better chances, including a header cleared off the line.
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Neither side could find the breakthrough though, sending the game to penalties.
The first two spot kicks, taken by Kempes and Liam Brady were both saved, before every penalty was converted to make it 5-4 to the Spanish side.
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Graham Rix stepped up next, knowing he needed to score to keep Arsenal in the shootout. He went to his right, but Valencia ‘keeper Carlos Pereira went the same way, made the save and the Spanish side lifted the trophy.
Arsenal 2-1 Valencia, April 2001, UEFA Champions League quarter-final first-leg
It would be more than 20 years till the sides faced off again, with the second meeting coming in the last-eight of Europe’s elite club competition.
The first-leg at Highbury saw two star-studded teams line-up against each other, with Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieria, Robert Pires and Tony Adams all starting for Arsenal, while Valencia’s side included midfield maverick Pablo Aimar, Gaizka Mendieta and John Carew.
Roberto Ayala gave Los Ches a vital away goal when he scored the opener with a volley inside the area just before half-time, but the Gunners fought back in the second-half.
Henry equalised in the 58th minute, pouncing on a loose ball to fire home, before Ray Parlour drove a superb 25-yard strike into the top corner to send Arsene Wenger’s side to Spain with an aggregate lead.
Valencia 1-0 Arsenal, April 2001, UEFA Champions League quarter-final second-leg
Ayala’s first-leg away goal would prove to be key in the second-leg at the Mestalla.
Arsenal looked to be holding onto their aggregate lead, but when Jocelyn Angloma whipped a dangerous ball into the box with 75 minutes gone, Norwegian forward Carew towered over Gunners captain Adams to nod past David Seaman, sending Los Ches through on away goals.
Valencia would then beat Leeds 3-0 over two legs in the semi-final, before losing 5-4 on penalties to German giants Bayern Munich in the final.
Arsenal 0-0 Valencia, December 2002, UEFA Champions League group stage
The two sides next met in group B of the Champions League, and played out their second scoreless draw in just four meetings.
Both sides had chances, but the flashpoint at Highbury was a red card for Valencia’s attacking midfielder, Miguel Angel Angulo.
The Spaniard lashed out at Pascal Cygan, elbowing him in the stomach right under the nose of the referee, and he was given his marching orders with 72 minutes played.
Valencia 2-1 Arsenal, March 2003, UEFA Champions League group stage
In the return fixture and the most recent meeting between the pair, Carew punished Arsenal once again, as he did back in 2001.
The towering forward opened the scoring at the Mestalla with a powerful drive past Stuart Taylor in the Arsenal goal on 34 minutes, sending the Spanish side into the break ahead.
That lead didn’t last long though, as Henry raced through with 49 minutes gone before finishing in trademark fashion, opening his body and side footing into the corner.
Carew struck the winner with his second goal just eight minutes later, adjusting his body superbly to head home.