20 Games That Marked the Reebok: No.9
It was February 2008, and our second European campaign was a nice antidote to the struggles domestically. After beating the Macedonians Rabtonicki in the opening round, a great group stage saw draws away to Red Star and incredibly, Bayern. We navigated a tough group, and in the last 32 were handed a very difficult tie, against Spanish side Atletico Madrid.
Atleti were fourth in La Liga at the time, and boasted some genuine quality, including a certain Sergio Aguero, on the bench that evening. We went strong, which wasn`t always the case in Europe, with January signing Matt Taylor making his UIEFA Cup debut.
We of course, have never lost a home European game, and we would win on this night. While we had chances earlier in the game, a huge moment was when Aguero came on for the visitors. He didn`t last long, his spit earning him a red card. And when a spitting offence leaves a team in a lurch, what irony it was when 15 minutes later, El-Hadji Diouf got on the end of a knock-down in the six yard box, and his shot beat Christian Abbiati. We held on for the 15 minutes to take the lead to Spain, and then went on to protect it for another 90 minutes.
We know how that European campaign finished. In a bit of a damp squib, with a much changed side doing a decent job in losing narrowly over Sporting, just days before Gary Megson`s grand plan backfired and we lost a crucial league game at Wigan. But that night against Atletico, personally, is right up there in my years of supporting Wanderers.