A Look Back At The 2011 League Cup Final

Birmingham City V Arsenal

Obafemi Martins pounced on a calamitous Arsenal defensive mix-up 2 minutes from time as Birmingham City declared their first major silverware since 1963 by securing the Carling Cup at Wembley.

Martins, on loan from Rubin Kazan, benefited from a fatal communication breakdown in between Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and defender Laurent Koscielny to strike the late blow that clinched success for Blues boss Alex McLeish and his guys, sending their supporters into euphoria.

The striker, on as replacement for Keith Fahey, had the most basic of opportunities after Koscielny tried to clear when Szczesny pertained to gather Nikola Zigic's tame header to extend the north Londoners' six-year wait for a prize.

Zigic offered Birmingham a first-half lead however Robin van Persie's spectacular volley brought back parity before the period in a fascinating Wembley final.

In contrast to the crestfallen figure of Szczesny, Birmingham were indebted to their keeper Ben Foster - penalty shoot-out hero of Manchester United's win in this competitors in 2009 - for a stunning demonstration that appropriately earned him the man-of-the match award.

Foster was exceptional throughout, denying Samir Nasri on 3 celebrations and also conserving splendidly from Andrey Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner.

Birmingham commemorate Carling Cup win

Birmingham, who also hit the woodwork through Fahey, were a model of decision and resilience along with positive intent and their success is a tribute to the exceptional work of manager McLeish.

Defender Roger Johnson was another commanding figure and all the bravery displayed by him and his team-mates in the face of a late Arsenal assault was rewarded in marvelous circumstances in the passing away minutes.

Toolbox, robbed of captain Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott through injury, never hit the heights and that minute of defensive madness indicates Wenger has still not laid his hands on a trophy because winning the FA Cup versus Manchester United in 2005.

There was a moment of contention nearly quickly when Lee Bowyer raced clear into the location and was carried down by Szczesny for what would have been a penalty and, in all probability, a red card for the keeper.

The Gunners were eliminated as the linesman's flag had already been raised - but their opponents were annoyed by the fact that the decision was incorrect.

Arsenal nearly increased Birmingham's sense of injustice when Arshavin forced Foster into a fine save on the turn as the favourites tried to exert early authority.

Zigic's choice owed much to his obvious aerial threat to Arsenal and McLeish's decision was vindicated as the huge striker headed Birmingham into the lead after 28 minutes.

He was able to evade the attentions of a cluster of Arsenal protectors and Szczesny in the six-yard box to head home after Johnson's power in the air caused problems at a corner.

And the striker needs to have doubled his and Birmingham's tally as the north Londoners creaked under pressure but his control let him down at the vital moment, enabling Szczesny to obstruct after good work by Craig Gardner.

Blues were revealing discipline and business in equivalent step, however Arsenal produced a minute of authentic class to draw level 6 minutes before half-time.

Jack Wilshere rattled Foster's woodwork from the edge of the area and when Birmingham stopped working to clear Arshavin crossed for an airborne Van Persie to volley brilliantly beyond the reach of the keeper.

Foster was tested again as the interval approached, blocking a swerving drive from Nasri as an thrilling first 45 minutes waned.

As the Gunners gathered momentum, Tomas Rosicky was within inches of providing the best start after the break but his crisp, low shot was narrowly off target.

Birmingham suffered a blow early in the second half when the prominent Gardner went off hurt and was changed by Jean Beausejour - however McLeish's side brushed off the setback to nearly restore the lead.

Fahey's shot carried excessive power and direction for Szczesny however, as the massed ranks of Birmingham fans rose to acclaim the strike it bounced off the within the post and across the face of goal.

Wenger made a change midway through the half, sending on Bendtner for Van Persie, who took a heavy knock in the act of scoring Arsenal's equaliser.

Foster concerned Birmingham's rescue two times in the area of seconds as time ticked away, blocking Nasri's effective drive before clutching Bendtner's effort at the second effort.

Toolbox had assumed command and Foster once again showed his agility and quality with a diving save from Nasri as their individual battle continued.

And then, with an extra 30 minutes beckoning came that crisis between Szczesny and Koscielny - leaving Martins to pounce and win the Carling Cup for Birmingham.

Back to blog