Arsenal engineered an extraordinary comeback at Reading to win 5-7 in one of the greatest games in League Cup history.
The Gunners, without several first-teamers, were 4-0 down after 37 minutes after Jason Roberts' opener was followed by a Laurent Koscielny own goal, and strikes from Mikele Leigertwood and Noel Hunt.
"We want our Arsenal back," hollered the disillusioned Gooners in the away end. Their weekend defeat of Queens Park Rangers had come after back-to-back losses to Norwich City and Schalke, and the fear of failure was again endemic.
Then Theo Walcott lofted a lovely goal past Adam Federici just before half-time. "I was never comfortable at 4-1," Royals boss Brian McDermott confessed after the match.
Although Walcott would emerge from this game as man of the match, the game-changer was the direct and combative Olivier Giroud. His header on 64 minutes made it 2-4 before Koscielny atoned for his OG with a goal from another corner.
Walcott celebrates his winner
Into the fifth minute of added time, Walcott saved the day. Or was it Carl Jenkinson? It appeared as though the former's effort went over the line but wasn't flagged as a goal by the linesman. Jenkinson avoided controversy by slamming the rebound in.
Amid the madness, Giroud and Francis Coquelin threw their shirts into the crowd, seemingly under the impression the game would be replayed. Alas extra-time was on the agenda, and they reclaimed their tops from understanding Arsenal fans.
Marouane Chamakh completed the comeback with a deflected strike just before half-time in extra-time, only for Pavel Pogrebnyak to complicate matters to make it 5-5 with five minutes remaining. Five alive. The game descended into a basketball match as penalties loomed.
Andrei Arshavin, enjoying his best game in years in an Arsenal shirt, led the cavalry charge but his shot was blocked on the line, only Walcott banged it in for the winner.
Chamakh scored the evening's 12th and final goal with a class lob over Federeci as Reading set up camp in the final frantic moments to seal the win and send Arsenal into the last eight of the cup.
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