FA Cup - Brighton and Hove Albion 2-3 Arsenal
Our Albion correspondent Patrick Gleeson reports on the Seagulls’ valiant effort to beat Arsenal.
Albion have been dumped out of the FA Cup this evening after 3-2 defeat at home to Arsenal.
The Gunners twice took the lead thanks to a delightful double from Olivier Giroud, but goals from Ashley Barnes and debutant Leonardo Ulloa looked to have been enough to earn Albion a replay at the Emirates Stadium until an 85th winner from Theo Walcott.
Argentine striker Ulloa made his first appearance in the stripes after receiving international clearance in the week, but he was quick to display the other side to his game with a number of clearances in the early stages.
Albion had the better of the opening quarter of an hour and almost took the lead through an Ashley Barnes effort. The forward’s movement eluded the Arsenal defence but his shot was brilliantly saved by Wojciech Szczesny between the Londoners’ sticks.
Within a matter of seconds of the corner being taken, however, Arsenal stole the ball and flooded forward. Olivier Giroud was eventually on hand to curl a powerful strike into the corner of Casper Ankergren’s net to put the visitors ahead.
Ulloa thought he had levelled the game on the half hour mark with a close-range finish at the back post, but the linesman had raised his flag to deny the new number 19 a dream start at the Amex.
The home side didn’t have to wait long for an equaliser though as a whipped delivery from a Lopez corner was met by the head of an onrushing Barnes who powered the ball into the back of the net.
A solid first half for Gus Poyet’s men was dampened by injuries to both Gordon Greer and Will Buckley who were replaced by Gary Dicker and Kazenga LuaLua respectively.
A determined looking Arsenal side went close just after the break with a thumped Carl Jenkinson strike and a delicate Podolski free kick, the former forcing a save from Ankergren and the latter smashing the crossbar.
Giroud then fired the Gunners back into the lead on 56 minutes after latching onto a delightful Abou Diaby floated pass, showing great composure to pluck the ball from the air and lash it into the net from a tight angle despite Adam El-Abd’s best attempts to muscle him off the ball.
Ulloa then got another chance to open his Albion account 5 minutes later and he duly took it. He threw himself at a stunning Ashley Barnes delivery to nod the ball low past Szczesny and set up a tense last half hour for the Premier League side.
Giroud, in search of a hat-trick, gave the hosts a late scare with a scuffed effort from close range which eventually ballooned over the bar, before going even closer with an acrobatic over-head kick which was deflected for a corner.
Albion were unable to clear the ball completely and substitute Theo Walcott’s deflected shot looped into the gaping net in front of the 3,800 travelling fans to secure Arsene Wenger’s men a place in Sunday’s fifth-round draw.