RC Lens Champions League Triumph: Lens Astonishes Arsenal with Epic Victory

2023-10-03 23:00:06
Elye Wahi (right) celebrates the goal he has just scored against Arsenal, at the Bollaert stadium in Lens (Pas-de-Calais), October 3, 2023. SAMEER AL-DOUMY / AFP

In Lens (Pas-de-Calais), the Racing Club may not play the Champions League often but it is inspired by the big European evenings. Tuesday October 3, the vice-champion of France achieved one of the greatest feats of its modest history in the most competitive of continental club competitions. Led (0-1) by Arsenal – vice-champion of England – the Lensois overturned the score to win (2-1), thanks to goals from Adrien Thomasson and Elye Wahi.

“I feel a lot of pride in what the players have achieved. What they did is very, very stronggreeted coach Franck Haise, Beating Arsenal in the Champions League, I don’t know if it’s the biggest match of my career as RC Lens coach but it will be one of the notable encounters of the period I am currently experiencing. »

At the final whistle, after the Gunners’ final and vain attempts, the Lens scarves were brandished in unison by an ecstatic public, who communicated for a long time with their team. Thanks to this success, RC Lens occupies the head of group B, ahead of its unfortunate rival and former leader by one point. Fervent and teasing, the Sang et Or supporters sang, at the initiative of the announcer at the Bollaert stadium, a refrain in English: « We are the best, we are the best, we are the best. »

Read also: Lens-Arsenal: relive the Sang et Or exploit against the Gunners in the Champions League

Twenty-one years after its second and final participation in the Champions League, RC Lens returns to euphoria with the toughest club competition. In three European campaigns, the third in progress, the Pas-de-Calais club has nevertheless welcomed into its stadium continental legends who have the habit of mistreating their less prestigious hosts. But neither Arsenal (twice), nor Bayer Munich, nor AC Milan, nor Deportivo La Coruna – former terror of the 2000s – imposed their law.

In seven home matches now, including four victories and two draws, the Lensois footballers have only lost once. A defeat (1-3) against Dynamo kyiv, on December 9, 1998, which at the time had eliminated them within a breath of the quarter-finals for their first participation.

A stadium with a volcanic atmosphere

Because in Lens, the big clubs not only face a team of determined and daring footballers, brilliantly coached by Franck Haise. When the big names move to Artois, they tackle a stadium with a volcanic atmosphere of 38,000 seats which can accommodate all the inhabitants of the city – around 33,000 in 2023 – with even a little extra, not fries, but a few thousand additional people. “The public transcended us but the players also transcended itnoted coach Haise, It’s not one without the other. It’s an osmosis: when one is with the other like that, it makes for great evenings…”

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