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December 12, 2012
Star Sport


Humiliation for Arsenal

AP - Arsenal players watch as their side is beaten on penalties by Bradford City during their English League Cup quarter final match at Valley Parade Stadium, Bradford, England, yesterday

AP - Bradford City's Gary Jones (left) celebrates with teammate James Hanson after beating Arsenal on penalties during their English League Cup quarter-final match at Valley Parade Stadium, Bradford, England, yesterday.


Arsenal were eliminated from the League Cup quarter-finals in humiliating fashion yesterday, losing a penalty shoot-out 3-2 to fourth-tier Bradford in one of the biggest shocks in the competition for many years.

Thomas Vermaelen struck the decisive spot kick against the post for the Premier League giants, having earlier scored an 87th-minute equaliser to take the game into extra time. The match finished at 1-1 after 120 minutes, despite Arsenal fielding a near full-strength team.

"They have world-class players ... but the way the lads stuck to their job, you have to give them credit," said Bradford manager Gary Parkinson, whose side has won an English-record nine shoot-outs in a row.

Aston Villa joined Bradford in the semi-finals by beating Norwich 4-1.

With Arsenal down to seventh place in the league and without a trophy since 2005, manager Arsene Wenger's judgement is being questioned like never before in his 16 years at the club, and this result will give more ammunition to his critics.

His team failed to produce a shot on target until the 69th minute on a freezing night at Valley Parade, with Bradford having pierced Arsenal's brittle defence through Garry Thompson's fine volley following a 16th-minute free kick.

A late rally saw Vermaelen head home the equaliser from close range, and Santi Cazorla fired a shot against the bar in the second half of extra time that Arsenal dominated.

However, Bradford were never behind in the shoot-out with Cazorla and Marouane Chamakh denied in Arsenal's first two penalties. Vermaelen still had the chance to take it to sudden death, but his attempt slithered against the goal frame.

"I can't fault the effort from our team," Wenger said. "You have to give credit to Bradford. We will get over it - it's part of our job."

Villa scored three times in the final 11 minutes to see off Norwich, with Austrian striker Andreas Weimann netting in the 79th and 85th before Christian Benteke completed the win in stoppage time.

Norwich, on a nine-match unbeaten run in the league, went in front through Steve Morison in the 19th only for Brett Holman to equalise two minutes later.

It sealed a successful return to Carrow Road for Villa manager Paul Lambert, who left Norwich in the summer in acrimonious circumstance and is still in a legal wrangle with his former club.

Swansea play Middlesbrough today, with the other last-eight match coming on December 19 when Chelsea visit Leeds. The semi-finals will be played in January.

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