Aaron Ramsey scored the extra-time winner for Arsenal on Saturday, as the Gunners ended their nine-year trophy drought by coming from two goals down to beat Hull City 3-2 in a gripping FA Cup final.
Appearing in their first-ever major final, Hull had Arsenal reeling after they went 2-0 up inside just eight minutes through goals from centerbacks James Chester and Curtis Davies.
However, Santi Cazorla’s sumptuous free-kick reduced the arrears in the 17th minute and after Laurent Koscielny netted the equalizer with 19 minutes of normal time remaining, Ramsey completed the comeback by drilling home the winner in the extra period.
“We have conceded early in lots of big games this season, but we showed great strength of character. To come back and to score the winner is something I have dreamed of,” Ramsey told ITV after the game.
It was the Welsh midfielder’s 16th goal of a campaign that has seen him emerge as Arsenal’s most influential player and brought Arsene Wenger’s side their first trophy since they won the 2005 FA Cup.
Wenger, who is set to extend a contract as that expires shortly, has now won five FA Cups and Arsenal have equaled Manchester United’s record of 11 successes in the competition.
“We wanted to make history tonight and win the game, and we did that in both ways — how not to start the Cup final and how to come back,” the Frenchman said. “I’ve praised the spirit of this team and they showed that today.”
Hull faded badly after their stunning start, but Steve Bruce’s side can console themselves with the knowledge that their place in the Europa League next season was already secure.
“In terms of effort, endeavor and determination you couldn’t fault them to a man,” Bruce said. “Proud? Of course I am. They were magnificent.”
Chester had unexpectedly overcome a hamstring problem to take his place in the Tigers’ three-man defense, but nobody could have predicted how quickly he would have made an impact on the game on a muggy night at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Hull fans were still adjusting to the novelty of seeing their side disputing an FA Cup final when Chester put them ahead in the fourth minute, clipping the ball into the bottom-left corner from Tom Huddlestone’s badly hit volley.
Huddlestone was picked out by Stephen Quinn from a corner and four minutes later, Arsenal were again exposed at a set piece.
After Ahmed Elmohamady’s free-kick was partially cleared, Quinn put the ball into the box from the left and when Alex Bruce’s downward header came back off the post, Davies rattled the rebound home from a tight angle.
It might have been 3-0 minutes later, when Kieran Gibbs headed off the line from Bruce, but Cazorla reduced the deficit with a glorious long-range free-kick that arced into the top-right corner.
Arsenal continued to force the issue in the second half and had three penalty claims turned down by referee Lee Probert in the space of 10 minutes.
Huddlestone appeared to drag Giroud back with his hand, Arsenal substitute Yaya Sanogo saw a header hit Jake Livermore on the arms and Cazorla was caught by Davies, but Probert allowed play to continue on each occasion.
Amid the flurry of appeals, Koscielny headed wide from a corner, but in the 71st minute, the Frenchman found the target.
Cazorla’s corner was knocked down at the back post and Koscielny swiveled to hook the ball home from close range, despite being flattened by Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor.