'We saved our pride'
Relieved Wenger hails team's never-say-die attitude as Walcott leads Arsenal to victory in 12-goal thriller
The League Cup may rank low on Arsene Wenger’s priority list, but the Arsenal manager said his side’s amazing fourth-round win at Reading was one of the greatest victories of his career.
Arsenal were heading out of the League Cup on Tuesday evening before launching an incredible comeback from 4-0 down to progress to the quarter-finals, as they bid to end their seven-year wait for a trophy.
The 12-goal thriller at the Madejski Stadium could go down as one of the best games in English football history.
Theo Walcott inspired the amazing comeback to complete the turnaround and clinch a 7-5 win. Wenger said: “We went from disaster to saving our pride. It was difficult to be worse in the second half than we were in the first. Maybe this is one of my greatest victories. You cannot play for Arsenal and give up, no matter what. This (tournament) is not one of our priorities, but if we had gone out the way we played in the first half, it would not have been one of my proudest moments as well. But this was like a tennis game.” Arsenal were 0-4 down before Walcott replied on the stroke of half-time. But with the Gunners appearing to only have pride to play for, Oliver Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Carl Jenkinson all struck to send the tie into extra time. Arsenal’s Marouane Chamakh and Reading’s Pavel Pogrebnyak swapped goals before Walcott and Chamakh killed off Reading deep into extra time.
>> 12th minute: Reading’s Jason Roberts converts from Robson-Kanu’s cross.
>> 19th minute: Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny deflects the ball into his own net.
>> 20th minute: Mikele Leigertwood makes it 3-0 for Reading.
>> 37th minute: Noel Hunt heads home for Reading.
>> 45th minute: Theo Walcott dinks the ball into the back of the net to begin Arsenal’s resurgence.
>> 64th minute: Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud converts a corner.
>> 89th: Laurent Koscielny sends a powerful header home.
>> 90+6: Walcott’s last-gasp leveller to takes the game into extra-time.
>> 102nd min: Chamakh puts Arsenal ahead with a low shot.
>> 115th min: Reading’s Pogrebnyak heads home to make it 5-5.
>> 120+1: Walcott completes his hat-trick with a shot from close range.
>> 120+3: Chamakh completes the rout for Arsenal.