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Arsenal Recovers Four-Goal Deficit to Beat Reading in League Cup

Arsenal rallied from a 4-0 first-half deficit to beat Reading 7-5 after extra time on a night of upsets in the fourth round of English soccer’s League Cup.

Theo Walcott scored in the 120th minute to put Arsenal 6-5 up at Reading’s Madejski Stadium before Marouane Chamakh added the seventh goal as the Gunners advanced to the quarterfinals of England’s second-tier cup competition.

“You always see new things in our game, that’s why it’s never boring,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said in an interview with Sky Sports. “It was a tennis match.”

Premier League teams Wigan, Southampton and Sunderland were all eliminated by lower-division teams last night, while Aston Villa defeated Swindon Town 3-2.

Arsenal found itself down 3-0 after just 20 minutes as scores from Jason Roberts and Mikele Leigertwood sandwiched Laurent Koscielny’s own goal.

Noel Hunt’s header in the 37th minute increased Reading’s lead before Walcott got Arsenal on the scoreboard in first-half injury time.

Arsenal substitute Olivier Giroud scored in the 64th minute and Koscielny headed in a corner kick in the 89th to pull the Gunners within a goal. Arsenal then tied it in stoppage time as Walcott’s shot appeared to cross the line before being cleared away to Carl Jenkinson, who fired home a shot to send the game to an extra 30 minutes.

After Chamakh put Arsenal in front in the 103rd minute, Pavel Pogrebnyak tied the game for Reading with five minutes left in the extra session. Walcott then put the Gunners back in front in the closing seconds and Chamakh sealed the win by lobbing a shot over goalkeeper Adam Federici.

Disaster, Pride

“We went from disaster to, I must say at least at some stage, pride,” Wenger said. “I’m very happy that we responded the way we did in the second.”

Reading manager Brian McDermott said Walcott’s first goal just before halftime was the crucial score of the match.

“It wasn’t comfortable at 4-1, I don’t know why but I just had that feeling,” he told Sky Sports. “They have got good players and they hurt us.”

It was the highest-scoring performance by an away team in the League Cup since Aston Villa’s 8-3 win at Wycombe in 2005, according to Opta Sports. Reading became the first team in England’s League Cup or F.A. Cup to score five goals and lose the game.

Bradford, which plays in fourth-tier League Two, secured the biggest upset last night by knocking out Wigan 4-2 in a penalty shootout after the teams finished scoreless.

Bradford scored on all four of its spot-kicks, while Wigan’s Shaun Maloney fired over the goal and Jordi Gomez’s attempt was saved by Matt Duke.

More Upsets

Michael Tonge, El-Hadji Diouf and Luciano Becchio scored as Leeds, from the second-tier Championship, beat Southampton 3-0. It was the second straight win over a Premier League club for Leeds, which knocked Everton out in the third round.

Championship club Middlesbrough also eliminated a top-flight team as Scott McDonald scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Sunderland.

Christian Benteke’s second goal of the game in the 90th minute gave Aston Villa the win over League One’s Swindon. Gabriel Abgonlahor also scored for Villa, while Swindon’s Miles Storey scored twice in a three-minute span of the second half.

The fourth round concludes tonight as Chelsea hosts Manchester United, Tottenham is at Norwich and Swansea visits defending champion Liverpool and former manager Brendan Rodgers.

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