Furious Hull manager Phil Brown launched a blistering attack on referee Mike Riley as he claimed that Hull were robbed of their Wembley dream. The Tigers boss was livid after William Gallas headed an 84th-minute winner from a clearly offside position.
Yet linesman Andy Garratt, who had earlier ruled out a Nick Barmby effort for a much more marginal decision, kept his flag down.
“We’ve not been beaten by Arsenal, we’ve been beaten by the referee and the linesman. It’s disgraceful. The game was turned on its head when the referee succumbed to local pressure. Gallas was two yards offside. It was never a goal. But we’re out of the FA Cup and you’d better ask Mike Riley how much that will cost us. I’m sure he wouldn’t have the faintest idea.”
Hull packed five into midfield and dominated the early exchanges, out-muscling Arsenal in the tackle and dictating the pace of the match.
Phil Brown’s side were clearly in the mood for an upset. When Manucho brushed aside the challenge of Johan Djourou in the third minute and spun to run on goal, it served as a message of intent.
The visitors went ahead on 12 minutes when Andy Dawson’s chipped pass invited Barmby to run into the Arsenal box and shoot first-time over his left shoulder. Barmby’s volley deflected off the unfortunate Djourou and sailed beyond Lukasz Fabianski for his first FA Cup goal in eight years.
Soon after Gallas was booked for a foul on Peter Halmosi and Geovanni drew a fine save from Fabianski with his swerving 25-yard free-kick.
On 24 minutes Barmby looked to have doubled Hull’s lead when he tapped home Dawson’s low drive, but the goal was rightly ruled out for offside.
Arsenal were all at sea, but gradually the home side began to string together some possession and their creative talents started to reveal their worth. Carlos Vela drove to the byline and sent over a dangerous cross on 38 minutes, but his pass just eluded the onrushing Arsenal attackers.
Andrey Arshavin collected Theo Walcott’s deflected cross minutes later, but his goalbound effort was blocked by a brave lunge from Sam Ricketts.
There was still time for Arshavin to scream a volley just wide from the left corner of the penalty area, but Hull held on and took a slim 1-0 lead into the break.
Arsenal came out for the second half firing on all cylinders. Abou Diaby should have levelled with a free header from Arshavin’s corner on 52 minutes, but his downward effort skipped wide of the post.
Arsene Wenger was beginning to get desperate. Nicklas Bendtner and Samir Nasri entered the fray and the home side played for the final 25 minutes with five in attack.
On 69 minutes Van Persie drew a fingertip save from Myhill with a curling free-kick from 30 yards. Two minutes later the Dutchman crashed a header against the bar from eight yards.
But Van Persie would not be denied. When Arshavin unselfishly teed him up on 74 minutes he smashed a shot into the roof of the net from close range to give Arsenal a deserved equaliser.
Arsenal immediately went in search of a winner. With 10 minutes remaining Myhill dropped a high ball and Bendtner blazed over the bar with the goal gaping.
Then, with five minutes remaining, Myhill was beaten to a high ball by Djourou and Gallas headed home from close range to win the game. Gallas was clearly offside from Djourou’s flick, however, and the Hull players were rightly angered by the decision to award the goal.
The win sets up a dream FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea at the new Wembley on Saturday April 18. Buy Arsenal – Chelsea FA Cup Tickets