A gritty performance from Arsenal saw them end their nine year wait for a trophy today as they snatched the F.A. Cup out of the hands of Hull City with a 3-2 win after extra time.
The game began with Hull looking like the favourites, with Arsenal failing to settle into the big occasion. That nervous approach would see them go 1-0 down four minutes into the game when James Chester turned in a deflected Tom Huddlestone volley. Chester himself had only been cleared to play on Wednesday after injury, making his selection by manager Steve Bruce all the sweeter. With Hull settled and Arsenal looking lost, a second seemed a possibility and so it came to be just four minutes later.
Irish international David Meyler was more tenacious in trying to win a header ahead of Bacary Sagna in the Arsenal box, which allowed the ball to fall to Stephen Quinn on the edge of the area. From there, the twenty-eight year old turned Aaron Ramsey inside out numerous times, before crossing into the box. The ball was flicked on and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, keeping his place in the cup team, made a tame effort to clear. As a result the ball bobbled off the post and fell to defender Curtis Davis, who still had a lot to do as he fired home from a tight angle. Hull were in dream land, and for Arsenal there was a sense of deja vu all over again. Had Kieran Gibbs not cleared an Alex Bruce header off the line minutes later, it would surely have been curtains.
A piece of Santi Cazorla magic in the form of a wonderful free kick got the London side back in the tie, and at the half they seemed content to go in 2-1 down having finally gotten a foothold in the game. The second half continued in the same manner, with Arsenal holding the ball well but never really looking like scoring either. Mesut Ozil and Oliver Giroud in particular looking quiet.
The introduction of Yaya Sanogo for Lukas Podolski on the hour mark was met with some bemused looks by fans, but in reality it was the turning point of the game. He accidentally set up the corner from which defender Laurent Koscielny leveled the game, and worked tirelessly throughout, taking pressure off strike partner Giroud.
Full back Gibbs had a gift of an opportunity to win the game in regular time, but his shot sailed over the bar from eight yards out. As the game turned to extra time Arsenal’s class began to shine through, with some nice link up play being spoiled by numerous Ramsey misses. In the end the introduction of Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere proved too much for Hull, who looked out on their feet by the time the second period of extra time rolled around. Some bustling by Sanogo followed by a Giroud back heel allowed Ramsey to hit a difficult first time effort into the net with seven minutes to go, sending Wembley wild. When the final whistle went the sense of relief for all involved with Arsenal was immense, as they picked up the trophy they last won in 2005.
FA CUP HIGHLIGHTS