Birmingham have won the 2011 Carling Cup Final on Sunday 27th February 2011, after Martins scored a last-gasp winner in front of a packed house at Wembley Stadium, giving the side in blue a 2-1 victory.
The match started well for Birmingham, who, despite being in 16th place in the Barclays Premier League to Arsenal’s 2nd, soon took the advantage when Zigic scored after 28 minutes.
Arsenal were soon level, however, when Robin van Persie scored after 39 minutes, meaning the sides came in at 1-1, though Birmingham had been the better side in the opening 45 minutes.
The scoreline remained locked at 1-1 throughout the second half, however, as the final whistle approached, Arsenal began to show just why they are flying so high in the league table, and Ben Foster had to be on top form in the Birmingham goal to keep out a smart effort from Nasri in the final quarter.
However, Alex McLeish, the Birmingham manager, took a positive decision in putting on striker Obafemi Martins for midfielder Fahey, with seven minutes of normal time remaining.
The decision paid off in the final minute of normal time when Martins was in the right place at the right time to pounce on a mixup between defender and goalkeeper.
Foster came up to take a free-kick just 15 yards inside the Birmingham half, and pumped it high towards the edge of the Arsenal penalty area.
The ball flicked the head of Zigic, and dropped into the box, landing between Szczesny, in the Arsenal goal, and central defender Koscielny. The goalkeeper appeared to call for the ball, but Koscielny went for it, only pulling his foot away at the last possible moment, effectively playing a dummy on Szczesny, who could then only parry the ball back into open play, where Martins was rushing in. Martins scored into the open net, before running, full speed, along the edge of the pitch, surrounded by cheering team-mates, ending with one of the most energetic handsprings the player has pulled off to date.
Birmingham then played out the four minutes of injury time before the final whistle blew to spark raucous celebrations from all those in the stadium wearing blue.
Birmingham went on to lift the trophy in front of their delighted supporters – only the second League Cup in the club’s history – as they showed off what is certainly their most important trophy in the modern era.
Obafemi Martins, who is on-loan from Rubin Kazan, has, with this seven minute cameo performance, earned himself an indelible place in Birmingham City folklore.
Arsenal’s players and management looked dejected, having lost a match in which, at least in the second half, they might, on another day, have won. That being said, Birmingham’s first half performance fully merited their fortuitous winner.
Arsenal v Birmingham – FA Carling Cup 2011 Final Result
|Van Persie 39||(1-1)||Zigic 29|