Birmingham lift Carling Cup

2011-02-27 20:53

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.


  • scott - 2011-02-27 21:01

    a question to all arse-nil fans . . . why on earth is arse-ne wenger still your manager? 6 years without silverware for a big club is like a sin. he must be the luckiest coach on earth to keep his job. 'gunners on course for 4 trophies'-what a joke-they say that every year. they not gonna come out the nou camp unscathed and i hate man utd, but they gonna win the league. so only fa cup left. another 6 year drought coming up.

      thundacat - 2011-02-28 10:10

      Since you're a fan of the word arse, may i suggest you stop talking through yours?idiot.

  • Andy49 - 2011-02-27 21:02

    Arse'nAll show their lack of Class'nAll

  • Andy49 - 2011-02-27 21:11

    Birmingham fan celebrates Carling Cup win by flashing breasts (NSFW) That's one way to rub it in.

      Mxhuma - 2011-02-27 22:29

      Was it a woman fan?

  • shandycop - 2011-02-27 22:40

    Haha, awkward! Wouldn't say Arsene should lose his job, he's a good manager, reckon he should incorporate more experienced "older & wiser" players into his team though, good for balance. They need a Steven Gerrard type to lead them

  • adrian.berghoff - 2011-02-28 07:30

    Maybe next year gooners.... keep dreaming

  • Gunner - 2011-02-28 08:02

    Bad luck boys. These things happen.Lets just focus on the next game now

      seeps.mazi - 2011-02-28 08:07

      Kwaaaaaa! You see what happens when you talk too much? Our áged Squad'tightened it's grip on the League while your ýoung swuad'carried on the trend of no trophies..... You will get smoked at Camp Nou and please set up that next round clash with United in the FA Cup so we can put you out of your misery

      Albo - 2011-02-28 08:42

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA - like the Liverpool supporters always used to say, "there`s always next year"

      A(N)ON - 2011-02-28 14:00

      SSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHH - thats the sound of Arsene's hope of 4 titles for the year fizzing away - pressure must be getting to the youngsters - Don't u wish old man Giggs, Scholes and Van der Sar were there to calm down the nerve?. BTW, you always complain about the ref favouring United. Problem is when the ref favours your team they do not know how to capitalise on the opportunity. 1 man down with most of the game to play with a potential of being a goal down (penalty) and the result would have been the same but not taken to the last minute.....

  • JustinD - 2011-02-28 09:20

    Well done Birmingham.............whaaaahahahaha

  • RED MANC - 2011-02-28 13:23

    Will be interesting to see how Arsenal's youngsters bounce back from this one - they looked utterly beaten afetr the game . Big Up to Birmingham - well done ! They had their chance and they took it . Thirty odd years is a long time to wait for a trophy - makes Arsenal's six years pale in comparison .

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