Arsenal Legends 0-0 Real Madrid Legends (5-3 penalties): Jens Lehmann is the hero on a day full of memories
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Jens Lehmann was the unlikely hero from the penalty spot as Arsenal beat Real Madrid Legends 5-3 in a shoot-out at the Emirates.
They say some things never change and that was certainly the case as former Arsenal and Madrid stars put on a highly entertaining display, despite what the 0-0 scoreline suggests.
The two footballing giants, known for their flair and exciting football that has brought them plenty of success down the years, showed their attacking intent from the off in front of an excited and expectant crowd in North London.
Dusting off their football boots in aid of the brilliant Arsenal Foundation, the likes of Robert Pires, Ray Parlour and Co pitted themselves against Raul, Claude Makelele and their former Los Blancos team-mates.
The last two times these met at the Bernabeu for the Real Madrid foundation, the hosts won 2-1 but it was Arsenal who had the last laugh, much to the delight of the Emirates faithful.
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The game started in typical open style at the Emirates, with a chance after just 35 seconds for legendary Spaniard Raul but he uncharacteristically fluffed his one-on-one effort well wide of Lehmann’s post.
Madrid started the better, with Makelele and Ruben De La Red also testing Lehmann but Arsenal soon found their feet.
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Jeremie Aliadiere – the former forward playing in the unusual role as right wing-back by Arsenal boss for the day, David O’Leary – proved a big threat on the flanks throughout.
Arguably the Gunners’ best chance in the first half came through the Frenchman, who put Pires through on goal but the latter’s volley was well saved but Cesar Sanchez.
From the resulting corner, Davor Suker then saw his looping header cleared off the line.
The first half may have ended goalless but there was plenty of entertainment on show and the fans made sure of that. Every football match requires a villain and that character was played by Mike Dean on Saturday.
While the former stars strutted their stuff, the Arsenal fans gave Dean a tough ride, amusingly booing the referee as his name was announced on the tannoy pre-match and jeering him when a decision didn’t go their way.
Immediately at the beginning of the second half, Alberto Rivera nearly scored an exquisite goal for the Spaniards, attempting a delicate chip from the edge of the penalty area but an agile Lehmann was on hand to tip the ball area.
Despite Madrid’s dominance early on in the second half, O’Leary – most capped Arsenal player ever with a remarkable 772 appearances to his name - remained a very calm figure in the dugout, much like Arsene Wenger for most of his reign.
Tomas Rosicky then saw his first-time effort drag just wide six minutes into the second half after another marauding run forward from Aliadiere, who proved he still had the youthful exuberance at the age of 35.
Aliadiere nearly won the game for Arsenal late on, making a darting run forward but his stinging effort from a tight angle was well saved by Pedro Contreras.
The game may have ended goalless but the fans were treated to a penalty shoot-out in front of the North Bank.
It was a flawless display from Arsenal with Pires, Gilles Grimandi, Matthew Upson and Aliadiere scoring before Lehmann - the penalty shoot-out hero during the 2005 FA Cup final and 2006 Champions League semi-final - stepped up to emphatically score the winner as his side triumphed 5-3 from the spot.