Arsenal's 1-0 away win at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday will go down in the record books alongside Arsène Wenger's other famous European away victories. But which one was the best?
Arsenal's record on the road was wretched. They had not won away in Europe in nine matches and 19 months and the previous season's campaign had brought a miserable yield from their travels of five losses and one draw. Fans were edgy ahead of a testing trip to Holland. Wenger, knowing the importance of ending a worrying trend, convinced Dennis Bergkamp to journey to his homeland to make his first appearance in a European away tie in nearly three years. It took Arsenal all of 20 seconds to set their record straight. Gilberto Silva won possession and raced forward to get on the end of a weeping Arsenal attack. The Dutch applied plenty of pressure but Arsenal withstood it before easing to a convincing victory thanks to a smartly-taken goal by Freddie Ljungberg and two from Thierry Henry.
Arsenal's mission was daunting: they needed at least a draw in San Siro to keep alive their hopes of getting out of their group, their campaign having already brought a defeat at Dynamo Kyiv and a gruesome 3-0 home thrashing by none other than Internazionale, who were still in sadistic form going into this game, having battered Perugia 6-0 just before the visit of Arsène Wenger's men. What's more, Arsenal had personnel problems: Patrick Vieira, Sylvain Wiltord, Martin Keown and Lauren were all out, and Pascal Cygan was in. Optimism was keeping a low profile. The home side made an ominous start, bossing play for the first 24 minutes – but then Ashley Cole led a counterattack and Henry landed a well-aimed sucker punch. Within seven minutes Inter hit back, Christian Vieri's shot deflecting off Sol Campbell and looping over Jens Lehmann and into the net. At half-time no one foresaw what followed. Arsenal took control in the second period, playing with a verve and swagger that brought rapid reward, Ljungberg putting them 2-1 up in the 48th minute. Inter sought an equaliser in vain and their hopes were obliterated by a three-goal salvo by Arsenal in the final three minutes, Henry plundering a superb solo effort before Edu and Robert Pirès completed the 5-1. Arsenal ended up topping the group while Inter, semi-finalists the previous season, did not make the next round.
It was a night on which Arsenal came of age. The club's faltering domestic form gave little indication that they were about to become the first English team to win at the Bernabéu - indeed, no foreign team had beaten Real there in four years. Real were in galáctico mode, with their lineup including Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Beckham (and, until an 11th minute injury, Woodgate), while Arsenal had Philippe Senderos in central defence and had to stick Mathieu Flamini at left-back. However, Arsenal soon asserted themselves as the more accomplished, authoritative team, playing with commanding maturity and menace. Mind you, they did have to endure some fretful moments before the break, notably when a Senderos mistake led to Beckham finding himself one on one with Lehmann, who saved well. Early in the second half Henry illuminated an already sparkling match with a quite brilliant goal, collecting the ball around halfway and gliding past three opponents before sliding the ball coolly past Iker Casillas. Rather than cling on for victory, Arsenal continued to take the fight to Real and created opportunities to inflict further damage before the final whistle eventually confirmed a historic and deserved triumph.
Here Arsenal emphatically toppled the reigning champions. The first leg of this last-16 tie had been goalless in London but in Italy the sides did not seem so evenly matched: Cesc Fábregas had to clear a Paolo Maldini header off the line early but from then on Arsenal looked a class above, their comprehensive superiority suggesting they were a club on the rise while this Milan side's day was gone. With Fábregas orchestrating play superbly (and Senderos popping up again in the canon of great Gunners away wins), Arsenal created chance after chance, Arsène Wenger urging them ever more forward as he substituted Emmanuel Eboué for Theo Walcott. A goal that had long looked inevitable eventually came in the 84th minute, when Fábregas fired into the net from long range. Emmanuel Adebayor confirmed Arsenal's dominance by making it 2-0 a few minutes later.
A 3-1 first-leg win meant that the run-away Bundesliga leaders probably viewed this fixture as a formality – but Arsenal gave them a godawful fright. German certainties were discredited as early as the third minute, when Walcott crossed for Olivier Giroud to stab into the net. No team in the Champions League had ever overturned a two-goal deficit from the home leg but Arsenal were looking intent on setting a precedent. They did not attack with care; rather they coiled up and nullified Bayern's pressure before choosing their moments to leap forward. Lukasz Fabianski, playing his first game in over a year, was seldom threatened until the second half. Laurent Koscielny headed in a Santi Cazorla corner in the 86th minute to spread panic among the hosts and set the scene for a frantic finale. Ultimately, Bayern hung on to prevail on away goals, while Arsenal left beaten but unbowed.