by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (May 17th 2014)
Arsène Wenger ended almost a decade without a trophy with a 3-2 defeat of Hull City after extra-time victory over Hull City at Wembley this evening. “It was relief and happiness because of course we were under severe pressure to win today”, Wenger said. “Hull started stronger and we were hesitant, then we made a demonstration of how to respond to being 2-0 down and also how not to start the FA Cup final”.
Wenger committed his future to Arsenal after his fifth FA Cup triumph – the sweetest of them. “This team has a special togetherness”, he said. “In the end, it finished well, so it is a big, big moment of happiness. We waited for a long time with that, and it is sometimes linked with the suffering we had to wait for. It was an important moment in the life of this team, because to lose today would certainly have been a major setback. It was more important today than all of the others”.
With less than 10 minutes played Steve Bruce saw his unfancied team race to a 2-0 lead with goals from James Chester and captain Curtis Davies. It could have been three if Kieran Gibbs hadn’t cleared Alex Bruce’s header off the line.
Less than four minutes into the match Stephen Quinn’s corner found Tom Huddlestone on the edge of the area. He either shot badly, or intended to pass to Chester who diverted it wide of Łukasz Fabiański’s dive to send Hull’s fans wild with joy.
Four minutes after taking the lead a free-kick taken further forward than it should have been led to Hull’s second. Quinn received the ball on the opposite flank and crossed. Bruce’s header beat Fabiański, but not the post. It rebounded to Davies who scored from close range.
Arsenal were reeling until a free-kick needlessly conceded by Bruce gave Santi Cazolrla the chance to bring Arsenal back into the match. His shot from 25 yards out gave Alan McGregor no chance. Despite efforts from Huddlestone and a move down the left flank where Mikel Arteta squared for a tap in for Cazorla who somehow failed to make contact.
Needing to break the drought before it became a Béla Guttmannesque curse Arsenal had the better of the second half. Cazorla and Giroud had penalty claims waived away by referee Lee Probert. Arsenal created the better chances as Hull tired, trying to defend what they had. The pressure paid off as Laurent Koscielny turned Cazorla’s corner in from 8 yards out.
Arsenal could and perhaps should have won in normal time. Gibbs wasted a glorious chance, blasting over from just inside the area. Shortly afterwards Olivier Giroud was thwarted by McGregor’s fine save. Extra-time beckoned.
Hull had acquitted themselves well, but were tiring. Man of the Match Aaron Ramsey – Wenger thought he should have been in the team of the season – came into his own in extra-time. He had contributed superb distribution previously, but in extra time threatened Hull’s goal. In the first 15 minutes he was denied by a fine save by McGregor and the side-netting.
Ramsey netted the winner in the second period of extra-time following a sublime back-heeled assist from Giroud. The long wait was almost over, but there was still time for Fabiański’s rush of blood to almost cost his team dear. Substitute Sone Aluko clipped a through-ball down the left flank, but with the goal gaping clipped his shot wide. It was Arsenal’s day.