LONDON (AP) — Doused in champagne by Arsenal’s victorious players, Arsene Wenger was a success again.
The nine-year wait for a trophy was over, and the manager, who had felt the pressure of the drought, could finally celebrate on the Wembley Stadium field. For the fifth time in Wenger’s 14 years, the Gunners are FA Cup winners.
Aaron Ramsey scored in extra time to clinch a 3-2 victory over Hull on Saturday.
“It’s a big, big moment of happiness,” Wenger said. “We waited a long time for that. But the happiness is linked sometimes with the time you have to wait for it.”
After allowing two goals to Hull in the opening eight minutes, Arsenal had to rally against its tiring opponent. James Chester and Curtis Davies scored for a Hull team that has never won a major trophy in its 110-year history.
Santi Cazorla began Arsenal’s comeback in the 17th minute by scoring directly from a free kick. Arsenal didn’t tie the match until Laurent Koscielny scored in the 71st. Ramsey’s slick move put Arsenal in the lead for good.
“This one’s for the manager, for the fans, who’ve always believed in us as well even when things weren’t going as well,” Ramsey said.
This is a team that has played in the Champions League for 16 straight years by finishing in the Premier League’s top four but has failed to match its talent with silverware since lifting the 2005 FA Cup.
“I think it was a turning point in the lifetime of this team,” Wenger said. “And to know they can win in that way was very important today.”
But three years after Arsenal gave up a late goal here to Birmingham in the League Cup final, this was looking like another miserable day.
Arsenal’s defense was nonexistent, breached far too easily by a team that just barely avoided relegation in its first season back in the Premier League.
Tom Huddlestone’s volley of a free kick by Stephen Quinn was going 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 on the Hull defense, celebrated enthusiastically on the sideline.
Before Arsenal’s players could recover, Lukasz Fabianski, the second-string goalkeeper who has been used 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.
But Cazorla gave Arsenal a much-needed spark as the Spaniard curled in a free kick into the top of the net.
As Hull tired after halftime, Arsenal seized control.
“We wanted to make history tonight and win the game,” Wenger said, “and we made history in both ways — how not to start a cup final and how to come back.”
Frank Griffiths contributed to this report.
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