GGM 32: Vaessen stuns Juventus in Turin

Before 1980 European trips to Juventus usually meant one thing for British clubs. Defeat.

In 25 years of European competition no side from these shores had walked off the pitch at Juve's Stadio Communale with a victory to celebrate.

That was the magnitude of the challenge facing Arsenal as they emerged from the tunnel of Juve's formidable stadium for the second leg of the 1980 European Cup Winners' Cup Semi-Final. Nonetheless it was a challenge they would overcome in the most dramatic of fashions.

The Gunners had progessed to the last four with victories over Fenerbahce, Magdeburg and IFK Gothenburg but had been forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with Juve in a bad-tempered first leg at Highbury.

The result boded well for the Italians going into the return fixture but once again the Gunners, including the likes of Pat Rice, Liam Brady and David O'Leary, were the equal of their opponents. Yet with 15 minutes to go the game was heading for a goalless draw, a result that would have seen Juve progress on away goals.

Arsenal manager Terry Neill went for broke and threw on 18-year-old striker, Paul Vaessen.

"A 0-0 draw would have put us out on the away-goals rule," Vaessen later said. "That was the score when [coach Don] Howe sent me on. I remember him saying, 'Go on Paul, knock one in for us.' And I replied, 'Yeah, OK'."

He did just that. Graham Rix went on a mazy dribble into the box, pulled the ball back, and Vaessen guided a header past Dino Zoff. There were just two minutes remaining. "I'll never forget the silence when I scored," recalled Vaessen. "The firecrackers, the drums, the chanting all stopped. It was eerie."

It was the first time Juventus had lost to a British team on home soil. Arsenal had made history but could not overcome their final hurdle in the 1980 Cup Winners' Cup, losing to Valencia in a penalty shoot-out.

As for Vaessen, that goal in Turin proved to be the highlight of his career. He tragically died in August 2001, aged just 39.

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