Arsenal suffered a disastrous opening 35 minutes at the Madejski ground as goals from Jason Roberts, a Laurent Koscielny own goal, Mikele Leigertwood and Noel Hunt put Brian McDermott’s men 4-nil up and dreaming of a place in the last eight.
A win over the Gunners seemed on the cards for Reading, with Arsenal fans chanting “we want our Arsenal back” in response to their team’s lacklustre start to the game. The request worked though as Theo Walcott scored just before the break, before going on to claim a hat-trick in a match that will go down on Gunners lore as they emerged 7-5 winners after extra time.
“You cannot be very happy when you are 4-1 down at half time,” Arsene Wenger said in his post-match interview of the Gunners’ first half performance. “The players wanted to show that they can play much better than that, which was not so difficult.”
Goals from Olivier Giroud (64) and Laurent Koscielny (89) brought Arsenal back within touching distance of Reading in the second half before Walcott claimed his second with a 90th minute strike that forced extra time. With the momentum very much back with Arsenal now, the Gunners marched on Marouane Chamakh taking them ahead for the first time in the match before Pavel Pogrebnyak brought Reading back level.
It would be heartbreak for the Royals though as Walcott claimed his hat trick on 120 minutes with Chamakh finding the back of the net again two minutes later to seal the win and astounding comeback for Wenger’s men.
When asked whether he had presided over a game like it before, Wenger responded simply: “No, I can’t remember that, no.”
Reading, though, emerge the first team in the FA Cup and League Cup to score five but still lose the game – an accolade they’ll be none too pleased with.