By Money Mike
Just when you thought the match was going to go to extra-time, a missed clearance by defender Lorient Koscielny and a spill by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny resulted in a late goal for Birmingham City as Obafemi Martins capitalized on the mistake and scored the game winner in the 89th minute as Birmingham City stuns Arsenal 2-1 and Arsenal's trophy less drought continues.
Birmingham started to put pressure early on the Gunners in about the 3rd minute when Nikola Zigic's ball found Lee Boyer behind the defense. Boyer was brought down in the box by Szczesney, but the linesman's flag was up for offside. But the replay showed that Gael Clichy played him onside and that the challenge by the Arsenal goalkeeper would've resulted in a penalty had the linesman kept his flag down.
Birmingham continued to put all the pressure on the Arsenal back line and in the 28th minute, it payed off as the corner fell to defender Roger Johnson who's header found the 6' 8' Serbian international striker Nikola Zigic and you knew that would be a goal if he got a head on it and that's what he did as his header found the back of the net and Birmingham City struck first and took a 1-0 lead. Nothing new to Arsenal, going down 1-0 because it's happened to them numerous this season and they've been able to come back and win in those games.
A minute later, Arsenal nearly pulled one back as Bacary Sagna's cross found Robin van Persie, but his header was just inches wide. Birmingham had a chance to extend their lead to 2-0, when Nikola Zigic was clear in front of goal but his shot was denied by Wojiech Szczesny. Arsenal had a huge chance to pull level in the 39th minute when Jack Wilshere's strike from about 19 yards out beat Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster but hit the crossbar.
Arsenal were givin a second chance after Birmingham failed to clear and they took advantage of it as Andrei Arshavin's chip found Robin van Persie who volleyed it home and the momentum shifted Arsenal's way as van Persie goal tied the game up at 1. van Persie however, needed treatment after that goal because he picked up a knock after he kicked Roger Johnson's leg in the process. Fortunatley, he would return to the game a couple minutes later. Arsenal had a chance to take the lead at the end of the first half when Samir Nasri's shot from 25 yards was well saved by Ben Foster. That was just about the last best chance of the first half and the two teams headed back to their locker rooms at halftime tied at 1-1.
Arsenal began the second half as they ended the first and had an early chance to go ahead when Bacary Sagna's ball found Tomas Rosicky at the top of the area and his volley just flew wide of goal. Despite being put under a lot of pressure, Birmingham nearly snatched another goal when Keith Fahey's first attempt from 20 yards hit his own teammate. The ball fell to Fahey again and he lashed a shot that hit the left post.
With about 20 minutes to go, Arsenal again had a couple of chances to go up 2-1, but were denied again. Nasri forced another save from Foster and then Nicklas Bendtner, who replaced Robin van Persie, ripped a low shot, but Foster did well to deny him. 10 minutes later, Nasri gave it another go from outside the area but again, Ben Foster was perfectly positioned to deny Arsenal a 2nd goal.
But in the 89th minute, disaster struck for the Gunners as Ben Foster's freekick from his own area found Nikola Zigic's head. Lorient Koscielny failed to clear and the ball slipped out of Wojciech Szczesny's arms and Obafemi Martins, who joined the club last month on loan from Russian Club, FC Rubin Kazen, took advantage of the error and tapped it into an empty net and Birmingham City came away with the Carling Cup as they upset heavily favored Arsenal 2-1.
It's really disappointing to see a team, who are favored to win, who have all the momentum, who are stronger than their opponents, make a costly mistake and end up losing, and it's nothing new to us in Seattle. As a matter of fact nothing new to anybody at all in any sport.
Congrats to Birmingham City, they won the cup and they're also guaranteed a place in Europe next season. As for Arsenal, they're trophyless drought continues. The last time they won a trophy was in 2005 when they defeated Manchester United in the FA Cup on Penalties. They had a couple other chances to win a cup in this skid. In 2006, they had a very rough year in the league, but they did well in the UEFA Champions League. They made it to final only to lose 2-1 to Barcelona, who are their opponents right now in the round of 16 of this years stage. Then a year later, they made it to the Carling Cup final against Chelsea, but again, another 2-1 defeat. But they still have a few more opportunities to lift a trophy this season. Will it happen, or will they have to wait another season?
Birmingham City - Nikola Zigic (Roger Johnson) 28'
Arsenal - Robin van Persie (Andrei Arshavin) 39'
Birmingham City - Obafemi Martins 89'
Arsenal: 53-Wojciech Szczesny; 22-Gael Clichy, 3-Bacary Sagna, 20-Johan Djourou, 6-Lorient Koscielny; 7-Tomas Rosicky, 23-Andrei Arshavin (29-Marourane Chamakh: 77'), 17-Alex Song; 8-Samir Nasri, 19-Jack Wilshere, 10-Robin van Persie (52-Nicklas Bendtner: 69')
Birmingham City: 26-Ben Foster; 5-Roger Johnson, 2-Stephen Carr, 6-Liam Ridgewell, 28-Martin Jiranek; 12-Barry Ferguson, 4-Lee Bowyer, 18-Keith Fahey (17-Obafemi Martins: 83'), 7-Sebastian Larsson, 8-Craig Gardner (23-Jean Beausejour: 50'); 19-Nikola Zigic (10-Cameron Jerome: 90')