Birmingham snatch Carling Cup with last-gasp winner

Arsenal 1 Birmingham City 2

Arsenal's six-year quest for a trophy goes on after Birmingham snatched a dramatic last-minute winner from substitute Obafemi Martins in this afternoon's Carling Cup final at Wembley.

Former Newcastle striker Martins swept home after a terrible mix-up between goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and centre-half Laurent Koscielny.

It was, though, no more than the Blues deserved following a battling display as Arsenal, without injured captain Cesc Fabregas and England winger Theo Walcott, once more failed to deliver when it mattered most.

Nikola Zigic had headed Birmingham in front on 28 minutes, but Robin van Persie equalised with a fine volley.

The Arsenal fightback, though, failed to materialise as Arsene Wenger's men could not make the most of their possession and were dealt a killer blow when Szczesny spilled Zigic's knockdown after Koscielny's mis-kick and Martins slotted home in front of the Blues fans to send the Midlands club into Europe.

Arsenal were crestfallen at the final whistle, but Arsene Wenger must now lift his side for an FA Cup fifth-round replay against Leyton Orient before the return leg of their Champions League last-16 clash against Barcelona to ensure another season which promises so much does not fail to deliver.

There was something of a sense of justice being done after a poor offside call inside the opening two minutes should have seen Arsenal reduced to 10 men and Birmingham awarded a penalty.

Lee Bowyer ran from behind the last defender onto Craig Gardner's pass before rounding Szczesny, who brought him down.

However, instead the assistant's flag went up and the Gunners went unpunished.

Arsenal slowly started to find their passing game as Andrey Arshavin's shot was blocked by Ben Foster.

Samir Nasri then weaved through three markers into the right side of the Birmingham box, but fired into the side netting.

The Blues looked to unsettle Arsenal in possession, and Martin Jiranek made a fine tackle as Arshavin broke down the left.

The Gunners, not for the first time, found themselves trying to break down two banks of four as Birmingham settled into a disciplined rearguard action.

Some careless possession, though, saw Birmingham break and Koscielny had to be alert to head the ball behind after it was swung into the Arsenal penalty by Keith Fahey.

It proved costly as from the resulting corner, Zigic nodded the Blues in front on 28 minutes after Roger Johnson headed the ball back into the six-yard box.

Arsenal almost responded immediately when van Persie sent a flying header over the bar from Bacary Sagna's cross.

Giant Serbia striker Zigic almost doubled the Blues' lead when Gardner touched the ball through from the edge of the box, but this time Szczesny was out quickly to make a smart block.

Arsenal were rattled, with Johan Djourou heading over his own crossbar, but after weathering the storm they were level on 39 minutes.

Wilshere broke quickly down the centre and when the ball came back to him at the edge of penalty area, the England midfielder crashed a 20-yard effort against the crossbar.

Arshavin picked up the rebound, turning it back into the six-yard box where van Persie volleyed the ball into the left-hand corner.

The Dutchman then needed treatment after kicking Roger Johnson's leg in the process of scoring, and jarring his knee.

Fortunately for Arsenal, with the return leg against Barcelona less than two weeks away, Van Persie, skipper in Fabregas' absence, was soon back in the action.

The Gunners continued on the offensive going into the break, and Nasri's 25-yard effort was well saved by Foster.

Tomas Rosicky almost put Arsenal ahead at the start of the second half when he arrived late at the edge of the area onto a Bacary Sagna cross, but his volley flew just wide.

Despite all of their possession, Arsenal were almost undone again when Fahey crashed a 20-yard effort against the inside of the post.

As the hour mark passed, Birmingham continued to disrupt Arsenal's flow in midfield.

Arsenal withdrew van Persie, perhaps as a precaution, on 70 minutes, replacing him with Nicklas Bendtner, who enjoyed a productive loan spell at Birmingham in the 2006/2007 campaign.

Nasri's shot was blocked by Foster following a quick Arsenal counter-attack, with the Birmingham keeper then denying Bendtner.

Foster was in action again to claw away Nasri's 25-yard effort.

However, disaster struck for Arsenal with just a minute left when Zigic's knockdown was spilled by Szczesny as Koscielny missed his clearance.

Substitute Obafemi Martins swept the loose ball into an empty net to secure a famous victory for Birmingham and prolong Wenger's quest for a trophy.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Voices
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?