After nine years, Arsenal's trophy drought is over. It took a two-goal comeback and the majority of extra time to pull it off, but Aaron Ramsey eventually scored the game-winning goal to become a Gunners hero and guide his side to a 3-2 victory in the FA Cup final.
Arsenal were slow out of the gate and were absolutely wrecked on set pieces twice in the opening minutes. The Gunners had no answer for the power of Hull's three central defenders, with all of them getting involved in early action, though the game's opening goal had more to do with a great design than anyone's size or tenacity.
James Chester scored the opener by turning in a volley by Tom Huddlestone, just four minutes into the match. Hull intentionally played a deep corner to Huddlestone outside of the box and all of the Arsenal defenders followed. That left Chester completely unmarked 10 yards from goal, and he was able to re-direct an attempt from Huddlestone that was half-shot, half-pass into the back of the net.
Another four minutes after that, Hull struck again. Stephen Quinn set up the chance with a cross to the center of the box, which Alex Bruce won in the air to force a save out of Lukasz Fabianski. He had no help clearing the rebound, however, and Curtis Davies was in the perfect spot to smash it in and put Hull up, 2-0.
The Tigers very nearly got a third goal in the 13th minute, but Kieran Gibbs made an excellent play to head an attempt by Bruce -- again off a set piece -- off the line when it looked destined to find the net at the top corner.
Arsenal looked incredibly rattled and were constantly getting out-muscled in midfield, but took advantage of the first opportunity they were granted by Hull. Santi Cazorla was able to draw a foul on Bruce 25 yards from goal in the 16th minute and made the most of it, curling the ensuing free kick over the wall and past Allan McGregor, who took a step in the wrong direction before Cazorla hit the ball, giving him no chance to make the save.
The final half-hour of the first half was intense, with both sides generating some half-chances in a fast-paced section of the match, but there were no massive scoring opportunities to come out of the rest of the half, and Hull took a 2-1 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Penalty shouts would be the biggest story of the second half, with Arsenal creating three of them -- and getting none. They should have been granted a spot kick in the 58th minute when Tom Huddlestone shoved Olivier Giroud in the box, and on two other occasions when Cazorla was brought on. Each time, referee Lee Probert saw nothing.
An injury necessitated a slight tactical adjustment from Hull in the 67th minute, though they didn't move away from three at the back. Paul McShane replaced Alex Bruce, with James Chester moving inside to take Bruce's place and McShane taking over Chester's old right central defense spot.
The Gunners got their equalizer five minutes after that, on a somewhat lucky and poorly defended corner, though he showed great fight to apply the finish. A lofted ball by Cazorla ping-ponged around in the box before falling to Koscielny on the edge of the six-yard box, and he beat McGregor to the ball, poking it over the line to level the match.
Kieran Gibbs should have scored the winner in the 79th minute, but he failed to find the target, instead hitting what he will almost certainly remember as the worst miss of his career. He was unmarked in the center of the box, eight yards out when the ball fell to him, but he blazed his shot over the bar when any kind of effort on target would have found the back of the net and put Arsenal ahead.
Arsene Wenger's men continued to dominate through the end of the second half, but never found a winner, and extra time was required.
As dominant as Arsenal were late in the second half, they were even more dominant in extra time. Giroud nearly scored in the fourth minute of extra time with a header off a cross by Ramsey, but hit the crossbar. With Arsenal somehow unable to score, Wenger went to his bench, bringing in Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky for Cazorla and Mesut Özil. Neither contributed directly to the winning goal, but their fresh legs were undoubtedly a factor in how easily Arsenal dominated from the 105th minute up until that goal.
Giroud and Ramsey, the pair that combined for the 94th minute near-winner, got together again to score the cup-winning goal in the 109th. The setup from Giroud was magical, a perfect backheel flick into Ramsey's path. The Welshman made the most of it, scoring the way Arsenal fans have become accustomed to seeing him, with a smash into the bottom corner after a direct run forward from midfield.
Hull found a second wind as a result of going down, and nearly forced penalties when Fabianski made a shocking error and got caught way off his line after failing to win the ball back. Sone Aluko had an empty net to aim at from the left wing, but Gibbs was able to clear the ball off the line.
The Tigers continued to push, but couldn't find the goal they needed, and Arsenal held on to lift the FA Cup.
Arsenal: Fabianski, Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna, Arteta, Ramsey, Podolski (Sanogo 61'), Özil (Wilshere 105'), Cazorla (Rosicky 105'), Giroud
Goals: Cazorla (17'), Koscielny (72'), Ramsey (109')
Hull City: McGregor, Chester, Bruce (McShane 67'), Davies, Rosenior (Boyd 102'), Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler, Elmohamady, Quinn (Aluko 75'), Fryatt
Goals: Chester (4'), Davies (8')