Arsenal takes FA Cup in overtime

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Arsenal takes FA Cup in overtime

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Arsenal players celebrate with the trophy after FA Cup final between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. Arsenal ended its nine-year wait for a trophy by beating Hull City 3-2. (Xinhua/Wang Lili)

Arsenal ended their nine-year wait for a major honor when they beat Hull City 3-2 after extra time in a pulsating FA Cup final on Saturday after a dreadful start when they conceded twice in the opening eight minutes.

They recovered with a first half free-kick from Santi Cazorla, a second half equalizer from Laurent Koscileny and a brilliantly taken extra-time winner from Aaron Ramsey who scored with the outside of his right foot.

After the final whistle, jubilant manager Arsene Wenger, in charge of Arsenal since 1996, confirmed he was staying at the club, ending speculation over his future.

Wenger, showing rare emotion after he was doused with water by his celebrating players, replied “yeah, yeah, yeah” when asked if he was signing a new contract.

Not only was this Arsenal’s first major honor since their FA Cup win in 2005, they equaled Manchester United’s record of 11 FA Cup wins.

Wenger equalled former United manager Alex Ferguson’s record of five FA Cup wins by a manager and Arsenal became the first team since Everton beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 in 1966 to win the FA Cup after coming from two goals down.

Frenchman Wenger, beaming with satisfaction, said, “We wanted to make history and win the game. It was the turning point in the life span of this team.

“If we hadn’t have come back it would have been terrible. I praised the spirit many times of this team. Congratulations to Hull they played very well.

“I always said my future doesn’t depend on this match but I wanted to wait to see how it all goes.”

He might well have been saying “Non! Non! Non!” after the opening eight minutes when Hull, playing in the FA Cup final for the first time in their 110-year history and whose trophy drought has gone on ever since, blasted their way into a 2-0 lead with goals from two of their three centre-backs, James Chester and skipper Curtis Davies.

Chester scored when Arsenal failed to cut out a mis-hit pass from Tom Huddlestone with Chester planting the ball wide of Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski to give his team a shock lead.

Worse was to follow for Arsenal four minutes later when they failed to clear from a set-piece and Davies scored from a narrow angle after Fabianski had palmed the ball on to a post.

In some ways, although Hull was delighted to be ahead, the goals came too early in the match for them.

Arsenal, better in every position, ended the league season in great form with five straight wins to secure fourth place while Hull staggered over the finish line and ended 16th.

Despite their early advantage, Hull could not build on it, but matters might have turned out very differently if they had gone three up after 12 minutes when a dipping header from Alex Bruce was cleared from under the Arsenal crossbar by Kieran Gibbs.

Gibbs was guilty of a staggering miss after 78 minutes which could have haunted him if Arsenal had lost.


Reuters
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