Arsenal pulls off dramatic comeback to win FA Cup
Gunners overcome 2-goal deficit to win in extra time
Aaron Ramsey ended Arsenal's nine-year trophy drought on Saturday, completing his team's comeback in extra time in the FA Cup final to secure a 3-2 victory over Hull.
It threatened to be an embarrassing day for Arsenal at Wembley Stadium when the London club conceded twice in the opening eight minutes against a Hull side which has never won a major trophy in its 110-year history.
But after goals from James Chester and Curtis Davies, Santi Cazorla began Arsenal's fightback in the 17th minute by scoring directly from a free kick.
Laurent Koscielny took until the 71st to equalize and force the game into extra time, where Ramsey completed a slick move to score the goal that will ease the pressure on manager Arsene Wenger.
"Nine years we have been waiting for this trophy," Wenger said on the pitch. "I think we deserve this trophy and hopefully in the next few years we will be stronger."
Arsenal's repeated failures in the Premier League since winning it in 2004 and the drought in knockout tournaments since lifting the 2005 FA Cup had thrown Wenger's future into doubt. But Saturday's victory will increase expectations that the Frenchman will commit to club he has managed since 1996, having already indicated he will sign a contract for next season.
But three years after a conceding a late goal here to Birmingham in the League Cup final, this looked like being another miserable day.
Arsenal's defence was nonexistent, breached far too easily inside three minutes by a team that only just avoided relegation in its first season back in the Premier League.
Tom Huddlestone met Stephen Quinn's free kick on the edge of the penalty area with a volley that was heading off-target until Chester flicked the ball with his heel into the bottom corner of the net.
Hull manager Steve Bruce, who won this competition three times in the 1990s as a Manchester United player, could barely believe it. Bruce, whose son Alex was in the Hull defence, celebrated enthusiastically on the touchline.
Before Arsenal's players could recover, Lukasz Fabianski, the second-choice goalkeeper who has been preferred in the cup, was picking the ball out of his net again.
After Arsenal failed to fully clear a free kick, Bruce's standing header hit the post and Davies fired in the loose ball from a tight angle for his third goal in four FA Cup appearances.
Arsenal's fragile zonal marking system nearly gifted Hull a third in the 13th, with only Kieran Gibbs' nodded goal-line clearance preventing Bruce's header going in.
But Cazorla gave Arsenal a much-needed spark with a piece of individual skill as the Spaniard curled in a free kick from distance into the top of the net. The search for the equalizer, though, proved frustrating with Giroud ineffective up front.
But as Hull tired after the break, Arsenal seized control of the game during the second half. They were rightly aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty by referee Lee Probert when Cazorla was brought down by Davies in the area.
But after Probert incorrectly gave a corner rather than a Hull goal kick, Arsenal levelled from Cazorla's set piece. Sagna's header came off Chester and dropped for Koscielny to turn the ball into the net in the 71st.
Dominating an ineffective, quickly fading Hull side, the cup could have been won in the 79th but for Arsenal's wayward finishing. Striker Yaya Sanogo, who had replaced Lukas Podolski, withheld challenges on the right flank before squaring to Kieran Gibbs. The left back was unmarked and had time to control the ball but managed to lift it over the crossbar from six yards out.
Giroud found the target in the 82nd with a powerful strike only to be thwarted by goalkeeper Allan McGregor's fine save. In extra time, it was the crossbar denying Arsenal inside five minutes after Giroud met Aaron Ramsey's cross with a header.
But a flowing move in the 109th ended with Giroud's backheel reaching Ramsey, who slotted the winner low into the net. The title drought is over and Arsenal has a trophy to take back to the Emirates Stadium for the first time.