Praise for classic cup thriller fails to ease pain for record losers Reading
IT’S being hailed as one of the greatest cup ties ever but that’s no consolation to Reading, who now occupy the unwanted place in the record books of losing the highest scoring games in both the English League Cup and Premier League after going down 7-5 to Arsenal in an extraordinary clash on Tuesday night.
Reading were also on the wrong end of a 7-4 scoreline against Portsmouth in the Premier League in 2007 and even suffered the FA Cup’s second-heaviest defeat, losing 18-0 to Preston North End in a first-round tie in 1894.
Nothing of the sort looked possible, though, as they flew into a 4-0 lead over Arsenal after 37 minutes at the Madejski Stadium in the fourth-round encounter to leave several away fans shaking their heads in bewilderment as they seemingly made for the exit gate.
They missed one of their club’s greatest-ever comebacks and one of the most memorable games in the 52-year history of the League Cup.
The 12 goals scoredurpassed the record for one match, set in September 2005 when Aston Villa beat Wycombe Wanderers 8-3. The biggest winning margins are both by 10-0 – West Ham beat Bury by that score in 1983 and Liverpool beat Fulham by the same margin in 1986.
Reading have now played Arsenal ten times and lost all ten matches, with manager Brian McDermott, a former Arsenal player, saying afterwards the defeat was his worst.
“It was kamikaze football in the second half and extra-time. Even at 5-5 it’s extraordinary. It’s the worst defeat of my career,” said McDermott.
The Reading manager was angry Carl Jenkinson’s injury-time equaliser came almost two minutes after the four allocated minutes. “Obviously it doesn’t help that the referee added two minutes on to the four minutes of injury time to make it six. You can’t tell the time as wrong as that, but he did,” said McDermott. “At full-time nothing needed to be said to the players. Sometimes the less said the better. This game will be remembered for a long time and that makes me feel a whole lot worse.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he knew what it felt like to lose a four-goal lead after drawing 4-4 with Newcastle in the league in February 2011. He said: “It happened to me at Newcastle. I always hoped we could come back. It’s strange to explain. At 4-0 you think you have won the game but, at 4-2, the panic starts to set in.
“At 4-0 I didn’t feel great, I started to think about half-time. Inspiration was not difficult. I just felt sorry for the fans, they stuck with us. A big part stayed and supported us and I give them credit.
“Then the miracle happened. There were so many turning points. Our first goal before half-time was important. It’s my first 7-5. It was a tennis score.”
It had been a strange night at the Madejski but perhaps the most bizarre moment came after the referee blew for the end of the regulation 90 minutes. While most players headed over to the dug-outs for a team-talk ahead of extra-time, Arsenal pair Francis Coquelin and Olivier Giroud jogged over to the visiting support and threw their shirts into the crowd. “I thought that, in cup games when you drew, there was a replay.” Giroud said. The players, after being told the match would be played to a finish, pleaded for their shirts back.
The post-match interviews were even in line with the surreal nature of the evening. Theo Walcott, with the match ball in his hands, and Jenkinson were the Arsenal players put up to speak to Sky Sports. The interviewer informed the pair that, while Walcott’s shot had crossed the line in the 95th minute before being cleared, the goal had been credited to Jenkinson, who smashed home the loose ball – thus denying Walcott a hat-trick. So the England winger laughed, gave Jenkinson a pat on the back and threw the ball away.
12 minutes: Veteran Jason Roberts gets the ball rolling for Reading when he stabs in a cross after losing Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny.
18: Koscielny is left red-faced again as this time he turns Chris Gunter’s low cross into his goal for 2-0.
20: Debutant goalkeeper Damian Martinez is this time at fault as he somehow conspires to help Mikele Leigertwood’s shot into the net.
37: Reading go 4-0 up as Noel Hunt outjumps his marker to head home Garath McCleary’s cross.
45+1: Theo Walcott races in behind the defence before coolly chipping his shot over the on-rushing Adam Federici to get one back for Arsenal.
65: Olivier Giroud heads in a corner moments after he comes on as a substitute.
89: Koscielny makes up for his earlier blunder when he powers in a header for 4-3.
90+5: Walcott’s initial shot is blocked on the line by Gunter before Carl Jenkinson smashes in the loose ball.
103: Marouane Chamakh scores his first Arsenal goal in over a year after an assist from Andrey Arshavin.
116: Pavel Pogrebnyak flicks in Gunter’s cross to level the game at 5-5.
120+1: Walcott fires Arsenal back ahead as the ball breaks to him after Arshavin’s angled shot is blocked on the line.
120+3: Chamakh completes a remarkable game when he lobs Federici to make it 7-5.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West