Arsenal win the FA Cup - Arsenal 3 Hull 2 match report: Aaron Ramsey wins classic final to end Arsenal’s long drought
Hull race into a two-goal lead inside nine minutes but hearts are broken in extra time
After nine long years waiting for a trophy it was perhaps inevitable that Arsenal would leave their fans hanging on for a further 30 minutes before finally claiming the FA Cup. None were complaining, however, after the Gunners fought back from a shock two-goal deficit inside eight minutes to take the tie into extra-time before Aaron Ramsey broke Hull City’s spirited resistance.
Faced with the fashionable competition of La Liga’s showdown in Barcelona, and the local one of Hull v Hull KR in rugby league’s Magic Weekend, the oldest competition of them all conjured a magnificent final in which Arsenal became the first team since Everton, in 1966, to recover from such a deficit and win without the aid of penalties.
James Chester and Curtis Davies, who was immense thoughout, put the underdogs two-up before Arsenal had managed a shot. When they did, after 16 minutes, Santi Cazorla scored. Laurent Koscielny levelled the tie with 19 minutes remaining but it was not until the 109th minute that Ramsey struck.
Even then, Sone Aluko came within a whisker of forcing penalties before Hull finally conceded victory. However, they can be proud of their performance and their season. Indeed, their decade.
Ten years ago, they were where Scunthorpe United are now, runners-up in the fourth tier. Their rise since has been astonishing and dramatic with takeovers, near bankruptcies, plenty of promotions, a relegation, and seven managers. The last of these, Steve Bruce, has taken them to unparallelled heights in both league and Cup.
Arsenal, 10 years ago, were celebrating their third League title in eight seasons. Few could have then imagined the years of frustration which have followed. The one constant has been Arsène Wenger and he is still taking decisions based on principles. So Lukasz Fabianski was chosen to keep goal because he had done so throughout their FA Cup run, this despite Fabianski being expected to leave the club next month having not signed a new contract. Joining Wojciech Szczesny among the substitutes was Jack Wilshere, still not deemed fit to start. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, another one of Roy Hodgson’s World Cup 23, was not even on the bench.
The most difficult decision of Bruce’s career was solved by opting for a three-man defence. This enabled him to include his son Alex Bruce. The surprise inclusion was Stephen Quinn, who played just behind lone striker Matty Fryatt with instructions to prevent Mikel Arteta dictating play for Arsenal.
For 15 minutes every one of Bruce’s selections came off more perfectly than he could have dared dream. Three minutes had gone when Ahmed Elmohamady went down the right and his cross was deflected for a corner. Quinn pulled that back to Tom Huddlestone, lurking unmarked on the edge of the box. His volley was mis-hit and going wide when Chester, adjusting his feet quickly, turned it past Fabianski. Aaron Ramsey celebrates after scoring to make it 3-2
Five minutes later, a half-cleared free-kick came out to Quinn, who cleverly made space to cross. Bruce rose highest, his header glanced off Kieran Gibbs and on to the post. As Arsenal scrambled to react, Davies lashed home the rebound.
Arsenal’s support was stunned, Hull’s in dreamland, and a watching nation was gripped. Five minutes more and it was nearly 3-0 but this time Gibbs cleared Chester’s header from Huddlestone’s corner off the line. It was crucial for, three minutes later, Bruce ploughed through the back of Cazorla just outside the box. The Spaniard got up to whip the free-kick past Allan McGregor and it was game on. Now it was a test of Hull’s character as well as Arsenal’s.
With the disappointing Mesut Özil miskicking when Lukas Podolski set him up close in, Hull weathered the immediate storm and made it to the break with their lead intact. They might have restored it to two goals had Fryatt not been harshly penalised for brushing aside Koscielny as he bore down on goal shortly before the break. Arsenal also took a while to get going in the second period as Hull began to break up the game but Yaya Sanogo’s introduction gave Olivier Giroud some much-needed support in his scrap with Hull’s three centre-halves.
One of them, Bruce, then departed injured. Another, Davies, was fortunate not to concede a 69th-minute penalty when Cazorla’s feet were too quick for him. Finally the pressure told. Arsenal were erroneously awarded a corner, Bacary Sagna’s deflected header fell to Koscielny and he turned it in like a striker.
Hull, looking drained on a muggy afternoon, withdrew even deeper. Arsenal pressed, and with 12 minutes left they should have taken the lead but Gibbs perpetrated the worst FA Cup final miss since Brighton’s Gordon Smith in 1983, blazing over after Sanogo’s cross reached him in space eight yards out. Arsenal's Mathieu Flamini, left, and Olivier Giroud, right, celebrate
Gibbs, though, will not have to forever relive the moment. Though McGregor denied Giroud to force extra-time, early in its second period Sanogo and Giroud combined to set up Ramsey, whose finish was exquisite. Hull were dead on their feet, but with four minutes left Per Mertesacker slipped and Aluko beat an onrushing Fabianski to the loose ball. Shades of Birmingham City and the 2011 Carling Cup final loomed as Aluko, from wide, shot for goal.
With the Hull support trying to suck the ball in, it rolled agonisingly across goal and to safety. Arsenal’s long wait was over, Hull’s continues, but it is matches like this, not rebranding, that will put them on the game’s global map.
Arsenal (4-1-4-1): Fabianski; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta; Özil (Wilshere, 106), Cazorla (Rosicky,106), Ramsey, Podolski (Sanogo, 61); Giroud.
Hull City (3-5-1-1): McGregor; Davies, Bruce (McShane, 65), Chester; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlsetone; Meyler, Rosenior (Boyd, 102); Quinn (Aluko, 74); Fryatt.
Referee: Lee Probert.
Man of the match: Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Match rating: 8/10
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