Fourth-tier Bradford knock Arsenal out of cup on penalties
Bradford 1-1 Arsenal (Bradford win on penalties)
Published 11/12/2012 | 22:27
TOMAS Vermaelen went from hero to zero for Arsenal in the Capital One Cup quarter-final at Bradford City by scoring a late equaliser to bring the game into extra time but then missing the decisive penalty in the shoot-out.
The result sees League Two side Bradford through the semi final of the league cup for the first time ever and, amazingly, was their ninth straight penalty shoot out win.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had earlier broken his long-held rule by fielding a full-strength side in the competition.
With the Gunners seeking to end a seven-year barren chase for silverware, Wenger made just three changes from the side that beat West Brom in the Premier League - Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey and Lukas Podolski coming in for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta and the injured Olivier Giroud.
Wenger had previously only fielded full-strength sides in a League Cup final, and his team line-up was greeted by groans by fans of League Two side Bradford - who were unchanged from their win at Torquay - at Valley Parade.
But while Bradford may not have been as technically gifted as the away side, they unsurprisingly didn't lack for heart in front of their own support and took the lead on 16 minutes.
A Bradford free kick out by the right hand corner flag was sent into the mix, flicked on and fell to Thompson who finished smartly with a smart volley.
The remainder of the half saw Arsenal create a large number of chances - without taking any of them.
At the same time, Bradford looked a threat from set plays with the Arsenal defence looking jittery at times.
The second half saw much of the same as Arsenal pressed for the equaliser and Bradford defended heroically, but fell increasingly deep.
Just when they looked to have held out, the away side got a deserved equaliser.
With just two minutes of normal time Cazorla lofted a cross from out by the left corner flag which beat almost everyone expect Tomas Vermealan was at the back post to nod home from two yards.
That meant 30 minutes of injury time - something neither side particularly embraced although Cazorla did hit the crossbar in the second half.
However, it eventually went to penalties with the home fans knowing Bradford had won their previous eight penalty shoot outs in a row.
And when Cazorla and Chamakh missed Arsenal's first two penalties, the opportunity was there for Bradford to take a 3-0.
But Darby missed for the home side and Wilshire scored to make it 2-1 and put the pressure back on Bradford.
The two teams then exchanged penalties giving Richie Jones the chance to be the hero for the home side. But he missed with a poorly struck effort, meaning Vermalen had the opportunity to equalise and keep Arsenal in the competition.
But he went from hero to zero when - having scored in normal time - his penalty rebounded off the post ensuring Bradford were through to the semi finals.
Full match report in tomorrow's Irish Independent