Arsenal FC reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time in their history after a goalless draw away to Juventus earned them a 2-0 aggregate win and a semi-final against Villarreal CF.
Eighth clean sheet
Arsène Wenger's side had travelled to Turin with a two-goal cushion provided by Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry and buoyed by a record-equalling seven straight clean sheets in the competition. The English team duly established their own landmark by holding at bay a spirited Juve side who finished the match with ten men after Pavel Nedvěd was sent off 13 minutes from time having collected two yellow cards in quick succession.
Already without the injured Alessandro Del Piero and suspended trio Mauro Camoranesi, Jonathan Zebina and Patrick Vieira, home coach Fabio Capello opted to omit Lilian Thuram in favour of Robert Kovač while both Emmanuel Eboué and Fabregas started for the visitors despite limping off at the weekend and Robert Pirès made way for Fredrik Ljungberg. The Swedish international introduced himself with a crunching tackle on Adrian Mutu and, after a slow start, the game came to life on the quarter-hour when Arsenal cleared a throw-in as far as Gianluca Zambrotta, who unleashed a first-time half-volley that bounced just wide of Jens Lehmann's goal.
Arsenal quickly responded as Henry controlled Fabregas's long ball with a slick drag-back to wrong-foot Fabio Cannavaro and force a save from Gianluigi Buffon with a left-foot shot. The hosts enjoyed the lion's share of possession, however, Nedvěd – suspended at Highbury - coming into the match more as the half wore on and Zambrotta causing problems for Mathieu Flamini with his rapid raids down the right. Arsenal nearly found their own right flank a profitable outlet seven minutes before the break, Eboué galloping away and cutting into the Juve area only for the defender's control to let him down with Ljungberg and Fabregas clamouring for the cutback.
The Ivorian's next involvement was to intercept a Nedvěd through-ball aimed at David Trezeguet seconds after the restart. From the ensuing move Henry played a one-two with Aleksandr Hleb and accelerated past Cannavaro only to be denied by the alert Buffon, who dived bravely at the Frenchman's feet. Arsenal were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure and use the pace of José Antonio Reyes or Henry on the counterattack. Midway through the second half Nedvěd surged down the left and crossed for Trezeguet, who was centimetres from making contact.
On the break Arsenal had a superb opportunity of their own, Hleb laying the ball into the path of Fabregas whose effort was pushed away by the excellent Buffon. Juve poured forward again and Zlatan Ibrahimović almost caught Lehmann out with a 15-metre shot but his attempt struck Gilberto and looped into the German international's arms. Two minutes later Lehmann stretched to make an excellent reaction save from Nedvěd's fierce drive from the edge of the box.
Juve's fading hopes were dealt another blow with 13 minutes left when the Czech international was dismissed for a second bookable offence after bringing down Eboué. The visitors had opportunities to confirm their progress in style. Hleb raced through and beat his marker with a clever feint only to fire wide, before Ljungberg followed suit in missing two good chances in the last eight minutes, twice sprinting down the left only to blaze over and then overrun the ball. It was academic, however, as Arsenal had already done enough.