A relieved Arsène Wenger hopes Arsenal FC's FA Cup final comeback against Hull City AFC which earned the north London club their first trophy since 2005 will serve as a "good platform" heading into next season.
The Gunners' and Wenger's wait for silverware threatened to extend into a tenth year when Hull struck twice inside the opening eight minutes through defenders James Chester and Curtis Davies. Goals from Santi Cazorla − an exquisite free-kick − and Laurent Koscielny, however, forced extra time, where Aaron Ramsey settled matters in the 109th minute.
Wenger, aware of the pressure he and his team were under to get over the line, described the 3-2 defeat of the east Yorkshire side as a potentially watershed victory, saying it was "an important moment in the life of this team". "Losing today would have been a major setback," he added. "Winning is a good platform to build on and to come back stronger next year."
The triumph is Wenger's fifth in the competition, drawing him level with the record Sir Alex Ferguson set during his success-laden tenure as Manchester United FC manager. When asked how this one compares to past cup glories, the 64-year-old, who confirmed he is likely to sign a new contract in the near future, said: "It was more important today than all the others.
"We'd done the double twice [in 1997/98 and 2001/02 ] before and on those occasions we weren't under the pressure we were today. I've won it five times now, so it's not too bad. I'm in good company and looking back at it I can say it has been amazingly difficult because we've played [en route to Wembley] Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool, plus Wigan in the semi-finals were very difficult opponents."
Hull counterpart Steve Bruce felt the contest might have evolved differently had his charges, who "ran out of juice" in the second half, made it to the interval with their two-goal advantage intact. "When you're 2-0 up it's quite remarkable – it was a great start for us. You then want to get to half-time if you can," said Bruce, a two-time FA Cup winner as a player with United.
"I always believe that your name is on it [the cup] and at one stage I thought it was going to be our day, but all credit to Arsenal and congratulations to them because they were under an enormous amount of pressure.
"They've come back from a position where I thought they were down and out. It took some magic from Cazorla, which he can do, but we're all disappointed because we put up a fantastic show."
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