Soccer

Birmingham lift Carling Cup

2011-02-27 20:53
Obafemi Martins (AFP)

Wembley - Obafemi Martins' 89th-minute winner following a blunder from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny gave Birmingham a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the League Cup final on Sunday for its first trophy since 1963.

Szczesny and Koscielny went for the same ball from Nikola Zigic's long pass and the ball landed at the feet of Martins, who slid it into the net.

"I think it was my second touch," said Martins, who joined Birmingham on a six-month loan from Rubin Kazan last month. "I think this is the easiest goal I've ever scored in my career - and it's very important."

Zigic had exploited defensive frailties to head Birmingham in front in the 28th minute, but Robin van Persie volleyed Arsenal level 11 minutes later.

Birmingham first major title since the 1963 League Cup final prolongs Arsenal's search for a first trophy since the 2005 FA Cup.

While Birmingham is battling against relegation from the Premier League - sitting two points above the drop zone - Arsenal is second behind Manchester United.

"It's an achievement when you consider who we were up against," Birmingham manager Alex McLeish said. "We weren't given a prayer by the pundits and the bookies but we believed today. It was a titanic performance by the players.

"We had a game plan and managed to get our noses in front, that gives you a great chance."

Three finals have been lost by Arsenal since 2005 as manager Arsene Wenger's wait continues for his youthful side to have something to show for its eye-catching football.

That lack of success, Wenger conceded before the match, had placed "a weight on the team." Only this season has Wenger selected strong sides in the League Cup, which he had derided in previous years and fielded young players.

Wenger hoped the final would show how far his side has matured, but Arsenal was sluggish and struggled to impose itself.

The Gunners looked nervy as passes went astray and had failed to heed the warning of Fabregas before the match that you are likely to lose when contesting the ball in the air with Zigic.

That transpired from a corner after Arsenal right back Bacary Sagna had conceded possession. Birmingham defender Roger Johnson soared above Koscielny to meet former Arsenal winger Sebastian Larsson's corner and nodded goalward to Zigic.

The Serbia striker - the Premier League's tallest player at 2.03m - found space among five Arsenal players to head beyond Szczesny.

Szczesny had been fortunate to still be on the pitch at that point. Inside the opening two minutes, the Polish goalkeeper brought down Lee Bowyer, who was adjudged to be in an offside position despite Gael Clichy appearing to play him on side.

The equaliser came after Jack Wilshere hit the crossbar from the edge of the edge of the penalty area and the rebound was only partially cleared by Barry Ferguson's header. The ball fell to Andrey Arshavin on the right flank and his cross was volleyed home by Van Persie.

Read more on:    carling cup  |  obafemi martins
NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
13 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Featured

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs
Vote

Is Louis van Gaal the right man to restore the glory days at United?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.