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CARLING CUP FINAL: Birmingham stun Arsenal and lift Carling Cup

For Arsene Wenger and Arsenal the wait for silverware goes on as Birmingham snatched a dramatic late winner to claim the Carling Cup following a 2-1 win at Wembley. Arsenal may not have won a trophy since 2005 there will be little sympathy from Birmingham on that score as they won only their second major title in their 136 year history.

Birmingham have now won 9 of their 10 cup games this season which contrasts sharply with their league form which sees them battling against relegation.

Perhaps this result will give them confidence to avoid the drop as they held their own against the favourites taking the lead just before the half-hour.

As the Blues score most of their goals from set pieces and the Gunners concede most, it was no surprise that following a corner Nikola Zigic headed-in from close range.

But the lead lasted only 11 minutes as Arsenal responded strongly and Robin van Persie volleyed a marvellous equaliser from Andrey Arshavin's cross.

Keith Fahey hit a post for Birmingham but just as it seemed the game was going into extra time some awful defending handed the Carling Cup trophy to the Blues.

Zigic, who was a constant threat in the air, caused confusion in the Gunners ranks and keeper Wojciech Szczesny and defender Laurent Koscielny allowed Obafemi Martins a simple tap in.

Wenger must now lift his team after the second of five games Arsenal must play in the space of 14 days, the last of which is a daunting trip to the Nou Camp to face Barcelona.

Referee: Mike Dean

Venue: Wembley Stadium Attendance: 88,851

Arsenal scorers: Van Persie 39 Birmingham scorers: Zigic 28, Martins 89

ARSENAL 53 Szczesny 03 Sagna 06 Koscielny (yellow card) 20 Djourou 22 Clichy (yellow card) 07 Rosicky 08 Nasri 17 A Song 19 Wilshere 23 Arshavin (Chamakh 77) 10 Van Persie (Bendtner 69)

Substitutes 01 Almunia, 18 Squillaci, 27 Eboue, 28 Gibbs, 15 Denilson, 29 Chamakh, 52 Bendtner

BIRMINGHAM 26 Foster 02 Carr 05 Johnson 06 Ridgewell 28 Jiranek 04 Bowyer 07 Larsson (yellow card) 08 Gardner (Beausejour 50) 12 Ferguson (yellow card) 18 Fahey (Martins 83) 19 Zigic (Jerome 90+2 (yellow card)

Substitutes 01 Taylor, 03 Murphy, 21 Parnaby, 23 Beausejour, 09 Phillips, 10 Jerome, 17 Martins

 Click here for the No1 coverage of all the gossip and transfer news around Arsenal.

 Click here for the No1 coverage of all the gossip and transfer news around Birmingham City.

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Dave Williams

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