Arsène Wenger was left wondering whether he had witnessed one of the greatest victories of his career last night after Arsenal FC recovered from 4-0 down to claim a remarkable 7-5 extra-time victory at Reading FC in the English League Cup fourth round.
"Maybe, yes," Wenger replied when asked if this was a new high-water mark. "We went from disaster to, I must say at least at some stage, pride – because we at least came back in the second half with a decent performance. We got our disastrous first half out of the system. Then, once it was 4-4, I think it looked like we would win."
That did not appear the case after 37 minutes when they trailed the Premier League strugglers 4-0, nor even after 88 minutes as they were still 4-2 down. A header from Laurent Koscielny, scorer of an earlier own goal, gave the Gunners a sniff; then, with the last kick of regulation time, Theo Walcott's second of the night forced extra time.
"Reading had given a lot and [were] mentally down, and in extra time the maximum they could have got was a penalty shoot-out," Wenger said. "I know what it is to be pulled back when you're 4-0 up. It happened to me as well [against Newcastle United FC last season]. They should take credit from their performance and not be too disappointed."
That disappointment was inevitable, though, not least because after Marouane Chamakh had made it 5-4 to the visitors, substitute Pavel Pogrebnyak seemed to have stopped the rot and earned spot kicks with his 116th-minute header. Yet Reading were destined to become the first ever team in either League Cup or FA Cup to score five goals and lose as Walcott completed his hat-trick before Chamakh rounded off a remarkable night with a lovely lob. Next stop for the Gunners: the quarter-finals.
The Guardian, UK
The League Cup may not be a priority for Arsenal but dignity obviously is. After a humiliating opening 37 minutes in which they allowed Reading to canter into a seemingly insurmountable lead, Arsène Wenger's men mounted a phenomenal fightback to turn a night of ignominy into one of glory. Amid absurdity.
This was one of the epic cup ties, an emotion-shredder of a match that saw the Mad Stad [Madejski Stadium] live up to its nickname as Arsenal amazingly recovered from 4-0 down to reach the quarter-finals of the League Cup. Extra-time, extraordinary tie.
The Gunners penned one of those footballing episodes that will stay forever in the memories of those who witnessed it from the stands or with their noses pressed against the television screen. Reality seemed to combine with fiction during 120 epic minutes which drew the attention of the footballing world towards the Madejski Stadium. Those who switched off and went to bed early will suffer terribly in work or at school today.
France Football website
Even after Theo Walcott had made it 5-4 in extra time the curtain didn't come down, Pavel Pogrebnyak equalising to take the game into the fourth dimension. In trouble every time Arsenal came forward, Reading finally cracked in added time, allowing Walcott and Marouane Chamakh to set free the emotions of the Gunners' fans. Arsenal may not have won anything since 2005, but they are capable of absolutely anything.
Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany
Mad comeback by Arsenal. After a disastrous start the north Londoners had conceded four goals already after 37 minutes. But there followed a comeback even more spectacular than Sweden's 4-4 draw after being 4-0 down in World Cup qualifying in Berlin against Germany [last month].
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