Sunday, September 13, 2009

13 September 2006 - Footballers Of The World, Unite!

On 13 September 2006, Arsenal defeated Hamburg 1-2 in their opening UEFA Champions League group stage match before a crowd of 51,258 at Arena Hamburg. The match was notable for the fact that, for a 42-minute period, the Arsenal side was comprised of 11 different nationalities.

Arsenal's starting eleven included ten different nationalities. The only duplicate was the Ivory Coast, due to the presence of Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboué in defense. Toure suffered a thigh injury, however, and was replaced by Justin Hoyte in the 28th minute. At that point, the Gunners on the pitch were Jens Lehmann (Germany), Emmanuel Eboué (Ivory Coast), Johann Djourou (Switzerland), Justin Hoyte (England), William Gallas (France), Tomáš Rosický (Czech Republic), Gilberto Silva (Brazil), Cesc Fàbregas (Spain), Alexander Hleb (Belarus), Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), and Robin van Persie (Netherlands). That combination lasted until the 69th minute, when van Persie was substituted in favor of a second Brazilian, striker Julio Baptista.

The match itself was never in doubt, as Hamburg keeper Sascha Kirschstein was sent off in the 10th minute for tripping van Persie. Gilberto converted the ensuing spot kick and Rosický added a second goal in the 53rd minute. Hamburg's Boubacar Sanogo pulled one back in the 90th minute, but it was too late for the undermanned side to complete a comeback and the match ended 1-2 in Arsenal's favor.

As if eleven nationalities weren't enough, Arsenal had two more nations represented on the bench with Sweden's Freddie Ljungberg and Cameroon's Alex Song.

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