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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 25, 2006

Arsenal advances to first Champions League final

VILLARREAL, Spain -- Arsenal advanced to the final of the European Champions League for the first time, playing a 0-0 tie at Villarreal on Tuesday night as goalkeeper Jens Lehmann saved Juan Roman Riquelme's penalty kick in the 89th minute.

Arsenal won the home-and-home, total-goals series 1-0 and will play Barcelona or AC Milan in the final on May 17 at Saint-Denis, France. Barcelona takes a 1-0 lead into its second leg on Wednesday night at home.

Lehmann, the starter for Germany's national team, stopped the penalty kick after defender Gael Clichy was called for fouling Jose Mari Romero in the penalty area.

"It was a team effort, but Jens was magnificent. He had an amazing game, not just the save," Arsenal captain Thierry Henry said.

Arsenal is unbeaten in 12 Champions League games this season and has not allowed a goal in its last 10 Champions League matches.

"We were a bit lucky tonight," Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger said. "It is a fantastic achievement and the team has great character. We didn't manage to play tonight, I don't know if that was for physical reasons or psychological reasons. We never came into our fluent game -- we needed luck and resilience and we had both tonight."

Villarreal, a small-town team from eastern Spain, had never before advanced as far as the semifinals.

"Understandably, the players are shattered," coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "We played such a complete game, we were very superior to Arsenal -- even better than they were in the first leg. We deserved to be in the final."

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