A decade ago today, love was in the air for Bolton Wanderers, as they beat Spanish giants Atletico Madrid 1-0 at The Reebok Stadium.
The match was one of the rare occasions that Gary Megson fielded a full strength side in the UEFA Cup, as Wanderers were in the midst of a relegation battle at the time.
Having progressed out of the group stage, going four games unbeaten in the process, Wanderers were handed a tough draw against Atletico Madrid in the Last 32. Despite selling Fernando Torres to Liverpool the previous Summer, Atletico’s side was stacked with attacking talent. Diego Forlan, the former Manchester United striker was the main threat, as well as former Arsenal forward Jose Antonio Reyes, Maxi Rodriguez, Simao and a young Sergio Aguero.
Wanderers started the game brightly, with Matt Taylor forcing a save from Christian Abbiati inside the first minute of the game.
The bright start could have been for nothing ten minutes later, when El-Hadji Diouf was almost sent off. First, he was penalised for a late foul on winger Simao, before being involved in a confrontation with striker Mista. Thankfully for Wanderers, Diouf was only shown a yellow card.
From the resulting free kick, Jussi Jaaskelainen was on top form to stop Antonio Lopez’s header from going in.
Atletico may have looked better team on the ball, but it was Bolton who were creating the better chances. It was Matt Taylor again with the shot, but his effort from twenty yards was easy for Abbiati.
In the second half, Atletico threatened Wanderers’ goal, and were unfortunate not to go ahead. Diego Forlan’s shot was saved superbly by Jussi, who somehow tipped the ball onto the post.
The turning point in the game was the introduction of Sergio Aguero in the 59th minute. The now Manchester City striker, then 19, was only on the pitch just less than fifteen minutes before being sent off.
Aguero fouled Matt Taylor, before appearing to air his frustrations by spitting in the direction of Taylor and the linesman. As a result, the linesman’s flag went up, and the referee issued the red card.
Moments later, Wanderers took the lead.
Failing to clear a cross properly, the ball eventually found its way to El-Hadji Diouf. Bolton’s Senegalese forward buried the ball past Abbiati into the far corner. 1-0. Cue wild celebrations from the Wanderers crowd.
Wanderers held on to claim a priceless win.
A week later, Wanderers travelled to the Vicente Calderon, knowing a draw would be good enough to progress into the last 16. Bolton defended valiantly to secure a 0-0 draw, which saw them go through to play Sporting Lisbon.
Have you got any memories of watching Wanderers play in Madrid? Let us know in the comments box below.