Aaron Ramsey lifts Arsenal past Hull City to win FA Cup final
Arsenal 3 Hull City 2
Arsenal Cazorla 17’, Koscielny 71’, Ramsey 108’
Hull City Chester 4’, Davies 8’
Man of the match Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
LONDON // Perhaps it was appropriate that Aaron Ramsey scored the winner. All season, he has offered a tentative glimpse of what might have been for Arsenal, his injury derailing their title challenge. His return has coincided with a run of six wins in a row, this by far the most significant.
Whether it means Arsenal are back is debatable, but Brian Clough always argued that the most important trophy he won with Nottingham Forest was the Anglo-Scottish Cup: after that, he said, his players got used to the taste of victory.
It certainly can’t hurt that Arsenal have ended a run of nine years without a trophy that has so haunted the club. The clock can be reset, and perhaps in the furnace of an anxious victory, one that required great spirit to win given their position, has forged the character of a team that can aspire to greater things.
But this was a win that deserves to be enjoyed on its own merits – Arsene Wenger’s fifth FA Cup success and the club’s 11th, which tied a record – and the first time since 1966 that a team has come from a 2-0 deficit to win the in the final.
“We wanted to make history tonight and win the game, and we made history in both ways – how not to start a cup final and how to come back,” Wenger said in a TV interview.
Wenger has spoken in the past about his side’s tendency to be nervous early in games. Against Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton this season, they effectively lost games in the opening quarter, and again, on the big occasion, they froze. Every set piece Hull had in the opening quarter hour looked like it created a goal: two of them did and another brought a clearance off the line.
First, after four minutes, a corner was pulled back to the edge of the box, where Tom Huddlestone met it on the volley. The shot was probably heading wide when James Chester, swinging at it instinctively, turned it just inside goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski’s right-hand post.
Four minutes later, Stephen Quinn’s cross was headed goalwards by Alex Quinn. Fabianski saved, but Curtis Davies was there to ram the ball home. It was very nearly 3-0 as well, with Kieran Gibbs clearing an Alex Bruce header off the line.
Nine minutes later, though, Santi Cazorla bent a free kick in off the underside of the bar, at which point it seemed Arsenal had claimed the momentum.
But as Hull regrouped, Arsenal became increasingly frustrated – in an all-too-familiar way. They hurried their attacks and demanded cards for every challenge.
The introduction of Yaya Sanogo, much maligned this season, and the switch to 4-4-2 gave them fresh impetus. It was Sanogo, whose dart across the near post led to the corner – although Hull disputed it – from which Laurent Koscielny forced the equaliser after Bacary Sagna’s header had cannoned off Olivier Giroud.
There followed mounting Arsenal pressure. Gibbs fired over from close range after more good work from Sanogo. Giroud forced a fine save from Alan McGregor with a drive from the edge of the box. Sanogo put a snap shot just wide from 20 yards and then Giroud headed against the bar.
But the winner was coming. Sanogo was central to it again, forcing the ball to Giroud, whose clever backheel found Ramsey to stab in.
This being Arsenal, of course, there was no closing the game down, and Sone Aluko, having rounded Fabianski wide on the left, struck a shot agonisingly across goal. Hull’s fans sadly applauded their team after the final whistle, knowing all too acutely that a great chance at claiming the team’s first trophy had passed.
For Arsenal, Wenger talked about “a turning point in the lifetime of this team”, while Ramsey said he hoped this is the start of more success for Arsenal.
“We showed great strength and character today to come back to win it,” said the Welsh midfielder. “To score the winner in extra-time is something I’ve dreamed of for many, many years.
“It’s definitely up there with the most important goals I’ve every scored. Hopefully, this will be the first of many trophies in years to come.”
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Published: May 17, 2014 04:00 AM