I dare say that the Bremen faithful thought, “Es ist nur Ray Parlour“, as the midfield struck for the first time. Probably believed lightening couldn’t strike twice just before he grabbed his second but put witnessing the third down to a flashback from a bad acid trip.
But no, this was it, Ray Parlour grabbing his first Arsenal hat-trick. What made it all the more unexpected was this being only the third time he had scored more than once in a match for Arsenal.
The hat-trick was over-shadowed by the officious display by the referee, in determining that Thierry Henry merited a red card for an innocuous looking trip on a Bremen player. It was the first time I can recall Arsène losing his cool with officials post-match. A trendsetting moment if you like.
All that mattered at the end was qualifying for the semi-finals, which they did comfortably, 6 – 2 on aggregate.