FA Cup – Arsenal deny Hull to book semi-final date


Arsenal came from behind to beat Hull City 2-1 at the Emirates and book an FA Cup semi-final date with Chelsea at Wembley.

Veteran Nick Barmby put Hull ahead with a deflected effort on 12 minutes, but Robin van Persie blasted home an emphatic equaliser with 15 minutes remaining.

William Gallas won the game for Arsenal late on, but replays showed the Frenchman’s 84th-minute header should have been ruled out for offside.

Hull packed five into midfield and dominated the early exchanges, out-muscling Arsenal in the tackle and dictating the pace of the match.

Phil Brown’s side were clearly in the mood for an upset. When Manucho brushed aside the challenge of Johan Djourou in the third minute and spun to run on goal, it served as a message of intent.

The visitors went ahead on 12 minutes when Andy Dawson’s chipped pass invited Barmby to run into the Arsenal box and shoot first-time over his left shoulder. Barmby’s volley deflected off the unfortunate Djourou and sailed beyond Lukasz Fabianski for his first FA Cup goal in eight years.

Soon after Gallas was booked for a foul on Peter Halmosi and Geovanni drew a fine save from Fabianski with his swerving 25-yard free-kick.

On 24 minutes Barmby looked to have doubled Hull’s lead when he tapped home Dawson’s low drive, but the goal was rightly ruled out for offside.

Arsenal were all at sea, but gradually the home side began to string together some possession and their creative talents started to reveal their worth. Carlos Vela drove to the byline and sent over a dangerous cross on 38 minutes, but his pass just eluded the onrushing Arsenal attackers.

Andrey Arshavin collected Theo Walcott‘s deflected cross minutes later, but his goalbound effort was blocked by a brave lunge from Sam Ricketts.

There was still time for Arshavin to scream a volley just wide from the left corner of the penalty area, but Hull held on and took a slim 1-0 lead into the break.

Arsenal came out for the second half firing on all cylinders. Abou Diaby should have levelled with a free header from Arshavin’s corner on 52 minutes, but his downward effort skipped wide of the post.

Arsene Wenger was beginning to get desperate. Nicklas Bendtner and Samir Nasri entered the fray and the home side played for the final 25 minutes with five in attack.

On 69 minutes Van Persie drew a fingertip save from Myhill with a curling free-kick from 30 yards. Two minutes later the Dutchman crashed a header against the bar from eight yards.

But Van Persie would not be denied. When Arshavin unselfishly teed him up on 74 minutes he smashed a shot into the roof of the net from close range to give Arsenal a deserved equaliser.

Arsenal immediately went in search of a winner. With 10 minutes remaining Myhill dropped a high ball and Bendtner blazed over the bar with the goal gaping.

Then, with five minutes remaining, Myhill was beaten to a high ball by Djourou and Gallas headed home from close range to win the game. Gallas was clearly offside from Djourou’s flick, however, and the Hull players were rightly angered by the decision to award the goal.

Nonetheless, on the balance of play Arsenal unquestionably deserved to progress, having dominated against a valiant and refreshingly positive Hull side.

Wenger’s team are now set for their first appearance at the new Wembley on Saturday April 18, where they will face Gallas’s former club Chelsea.

Will Tidey / Eurosport