Hull's heroic No 1 finally holds Gunners to zero
Arsenal 0-0 Hull City
Published 22/02/2016 | 02:30
As Arsenal began to turn the screw, raining shots on the Hull goal, Eldin Jakupovic might have been forgiven for indulging in a brief flashback. In 2005, Jakupovic was playing for FC Thun when they visited Highbury in the Champions League.
After gamely resisting Arsenal all night, the tiny Swiss club were on the verge of a heroic draw when Dennis Bergkamp popped up and bundled in the winning goal in the third minute of injury-time.
So it was with a certain symmetry, and no little poignancy, that Jakupovic was able to right a few wrongs, 11 years on. Hull's second-string goalkeeper may not have appeared in a league game all season, but he was the indisputable star here, denying Arsenal a win that even their most pessimistic supporters would probably have taken for granted.
"In football, you need luck, and today it was on our side," said the well-travelled Bosnian-Swiss, whose career has also taken him to Russia and Greece before pitching up on the Humber.
"It was a really great day for all of Hull. My parents and friends from Switzerland are here, so I will enjoy it with them."
"We were not that decisive," complained Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini.
"We produced a good defensive performance, but in the final third, that final pass at the end, we rushed our finish at times, so we need to learn from that."
Jakupovic's flying claws earned Hull a replay that might once have been described as "money-spinning", were they not in pursuit of something far more lucrative. Hull manager Steve Bruce was delighted, but a team with 10 changes starkly underlined the fact that tomorrow night's game at Ipswich is the real priority for him. "Look," explained Bruce. "For half of them in there (the dressing room), they double their salary if they get promoted to the Premier League. We'd love to go to Wembley again and try to win the FA Cup, but my sole priority is getting the club back in the Premier League.
"Because we want to come to Arsenal, we want to come to Liverpool, we want to go to Manchester United."
Given Hull's brutal schedule over the next few weeks - seven games in 23 days, and now a replay - it was possible to feel some sympathy for him.
And besides, if he had played his full-strength side at the Emirates, their star performer Jakupovic would have been sitting on the bench.