Wild Celebrations Ensue, As Lionhearted City Shoot Down Premier League Giants
|The City stars celebrate their victory|
What an incredible, incredible night.
The biggest crowd in over half a century gathered to watch Bradford City take on Arsenal F.C., and, boy, was it entertained.
From the outset, it was clear that Wenger was taking the match seriously. Wilshere, Gervinho, Vermaelen, Podolski and Ramsey all started, whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rosicky were on the bench. Three divisions of football separated the sides, but, given City’s performance, you wouldn’t have noticed.
Both teams were evenly matched. Arsenal threatened, but Bradford looked the stronger side, with both James Hanson and Nahki Wells working Szczesny.
Then, just 15 minutes in, it happened.
Wells brought down a long ball from Duke and paced down the wing, although he was blocked off by an Arsenal defender. Bradford had won a free kick, and, as luck would have it, the chance to fire themselves ahead.
An unmarked Gary Thompson reacted superbly to Will Atkinson’s header. One touch, and boom-the Bantams were ahead.
On the half-hour mark, Arsenal were beginning to gain some composure. Excellent defending from City denied them of a goal from a corner, though the Gunners did proceed to rattle the post. Gervinho missed a great chance to put Arsenal level, and the Bantams subsequently ended the half as the game’s leaders.
As play resumed, the Bradford team continued to show their ability, as great passing play gave Hanson the opportunity to extend the lead. At 54 minutes, Arsenal were yet to have a shot on target. Wenger, feeling the pressure, threw on Rosicky, Chamakh and Oxlade-Chamberlain, and the change in tempo was noticeable: the visitors upped the ante.
With just three minutes of normal time left, Arsenal took the game into extra time. City’s clearance found Santi Carzola, who whipped the ball in and found Vermaelen at the back post.
Refusing to be beaten, the City fans rallied the troops. The dream was back on, and, for the eighth cup game this season, the game had gone to extra time.
A panic-stricken Arsenal attacked in numbers, throwing everyone forward. Chamakh, Wilshere, Gibbs and Sanga all saw their efforts denied. Oxlade-Chamberlain tore up the wing. Carzola rattled the crossbar. Still, City resisted. Arsenal constantly threatened, but the back four were on their toes and dealt with everything. McHugh and McArdle defended superbly, Meredith won every challenge and Darby was so composed on the ball: he didn’t panic, slowed the game down and ensured that he had as much time as he wanted.
Extra time was over. Penalties called.
There may have been a 65-place gap between the teams, but, when it comes to penalties, Bradford are in a league of their own.
Calmly delivered spot-kicks from Doyle, Jones and Connell, as well as a fine save from Duke, showed that City really are the penalty kings. A dysfunctional Arsenal, meanwhile, crumbled under the pressure and twice hit the woodwork.
Wenger has never won at Valley Parade.
That run shows little sign of ending.
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