GiveMeSport live from Wembley Stadium
Arsenal have come back from conceding twice in the opening eight minutes to end their 3,283-day trophy drought at Wembley Stadium this afternoon after one of the most dramatic FA Cup finals in living memory, finally decided deep into extra-time by a moment of divine intervention from Aaron Ramsey.
A fantastic Hull City effort saw them lead their first ever FA Cup final for 68 minutes and show the kind of desire and drive that typified their manager Steve Bruce's playing career, but ultimately they came up short after finally wilting in added time following an effort forced at full-throttle throughout.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was given the fright off his life in a match that summed up a tumultuous campaign that must now be ultimately considered a success, just about, as his players were driven to the depths of despair before delivering the prize their fans have craved for nine-tenths of a decade.
Hull sprinted into a 2-0 lead which even the most ardent of Tigers fans scould have scarely dreamed of inside eight minutes, as James Chester and Curtis Davies both profitied from alarming defensive deficiencies in the Arsenal penalty area to score from close range.
Chester only made the starting XI following a late fitness test but vindicated that decision with just three minutes on the clock, flicking a miscued volley from Tom Huddlestone beyond Lukas Fabianski's outstretched arm and into the bottom corner.
Arsenal were caught napping from a well-worked Stephen Quinn corner and that alarming trend reared its ugly ahead again just five minutes later, as the Gunners paid a heavy price for failing to clear their lines following an effort from David Meyler.
Pandemonium in the penalty area eventually saw Alex Bruce send a header onto the post following a top stop from Fabianski, but Davies was the quickest player to react and lashed home a second from close range to send Wembley Stadium's South Stand into raptures.
So often this season Arsene Wenger's side have been accused of lacking leadership and failing to show the attitude that can make them winners rather than contenders in every competition, with the FA Cup final scarcely underway that theory faced its ultimate acid test.
One player quickly rose to the occassion to leave that arguement momentarily redundant in Santi Cazorla, who won a free kick following a deft touch beyond Bruce, before taking himself and beating Allan McGregor with a wonderful curling drive from 30 yards.
The Gunners cranked up the pressure after that valuable lifeline, but there a lack of fluency in the final third undermined a clear desire to reserve arguably the club's worst ever start to a cup final.
Mesut Ozil typified that frustration, particularly when played through by Lukas Podolski inside the six-yard box as he found fresh air rather than the back of the net with the goal at his mercy.
Aaron Ramsey was largely shut down by a battling effort from Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, while Olivier Giroud was positvely peripheral for long spells as Hull's three central defenders took it in turns to double up on the frustrated, and isolated Frenchman.
Wenger decided to make a change and give Giroud some much-needed help on the hour mark, swapping Podolski for Yaya Sanogo to go two up front, the same tactic he employed to positive effect in the semi-final against Wigan Athletic a month ago.
Sanogo brought energy but a strange trend continued as key chances fell to defenders from close range, a trait endemic of a match played at a ferocious tempo and the kind of spirit that matches which decide silverware deserve.
Arsenal were showing urgency and desire, taking corners quickly and racing to retrieve throws in the closing stages, and were rewarded with a scrappy but priceless equaliser 20 minutes from the full-time whistle.
Laurent Koscielny was the man who scrambled home from close range after a corner kick had cannoned off the back of Giroud's head towards the six-yard box, with the French defender flicking on the turn before taking an almighty whack for his troubles.
Hull began to drop deeper and might have conceded the cup soon after if it not for a truly terrible miss from Kieran Gibbs, who somehow managed to spoon over unmarked from eight yards with the goal at his mercy.
That error left both sides with 30 extra minutes to wrestle the initiative, with extra-time probably the right outcome after a match full of verve and moments to savour, for the neutral at least.
Extra-time began with Arsenal domination but thanks to a combination of fortune and failure, although the former was in good supply for the Tigers when Giroud met Ramsey's terrific searching cross drive deep into the heart of the penalty area.
Giroud was up early and ready to celebrate after guiding a strong effort well beyond McGregor, but his header bounced back off the bar and clear to safety.
Cazorla lofted a poor drive over the top soon after and his reward was a seat on the bench for the final 15 minutes of extra-time, as Wenger swapped him and Ozil for Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere.
Those changes brought new energy to Arsenal's attacking efforts and just three minutes later Wenger had his reward, and it was a special team goal befitting the magnitude of the occasion.
Ramsey was the man who applied a first-time finish from close range after sending high wide and handsome for so much of the preceding 107 minutes, but only because Giroud produced a moment of genuine quality to flick back into the Welshman's path after turning away from goal.
Hull gave the Gunners one final fright in the final few minutes as Sone Aluko burst clear and beyond Fabianski's mad 30-yard dart, but his effort creeped narrowly wide and showed Tigers fans the fine margins by which top prizes are decided.
By those same razor-thin margins Wenger and Arsenal finally have cause for celebration and boy did they have to earn it, with man-of-the-match Ramsey a clear example that the professor deserves another season to lead this fine but frustrating squad of players into battle again next year.
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