Remembering when Batistuta taught Arsenal how to finish at Wembley

In 1999 Arsenal had an ill fated Champions League run at Wembley where they were drawn in the group of death with Barcelona, Fiorentina and AIK.

Arsenal’s away record in European football wasn’t that bad but they paid the price for playing their home games at Wembley, where they lost to Barcelona and a Fiorentina team spearheaded by Batistuta.

Ahead of the game Wenger predicted how Fiorentina would play … like snakes

They are defensively secure and play quite deep.  They are like snakes, they have spurts and in five minutes they can kill you. You can feel you are on top of the game but suddenly if your concentration goes down they have the individual quality to be dangerous when it is you who think you are in control of the game. So you are thinking you are OK but suddenly one individual will do something special and score.

This turned out to be a premonition for the goal.  Championship Manager hero, Jorg Heinrich carried the ball from midfield and found Batistuta in the right edge of the area.  He took one touch past Nigel Winterburn at left back and hammered his right foot from a tight angle beyond David Seaman in goal.

It was an amazing goal that summed up Batistuta.  Power and accuracy.

What made matters worst for Arsenal was Kanu firing a shot at Toldo from point blank range when the ball rebounded off the post from Davor Suker’s shot in the 86th minute.

And so ended Arsenal’s run of Champions League games at Wembley.  The rest of Arsenal European games that season were played at Highbury where Arsenal remained undefeated on the way to the UEFA Cup final that they lost to Galatasary.

Check out our marketplace for vintage Arsenal and Fiorentina shirt like this Batistuta banger from 1994.

Fiorentina Batistuta



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