Theo Walcott celebrates hitting Arsenal's sixth
ARSENE WENGER hailed his Arsenal heroes as they completed the greatest comeback in League Cup history to beat Reading.
The Gunners fought back from 4-0 down to force extra-time, before taking their tally to seven.
Wenger said: “It may be one of my greatest victories during my time here. We went from disaster to salvaging our pride.
“You cannot play for Arsenal and give up — no matter what the score is.
“The players understood at half-time they could not go out again with the same performance.
"We just had hope but it didn’t look like it was going to come off. But at least we got our disastrous first half out of our system.”
Reading raced ahead through Jason Roberts’ opener, a Laurent Koscielny own goal, Mikele Leigertwood’s strike and a Noel Hunt header.
Yet Theo Walcott pulled one back, then made it 4-4 deep in injury time after Olivier Giroud and Koscielny had netted for the Gunners.
Marouane Chamakh and Pavel Pogrebnyak exchanged extra-time goals before Walcott and Chamakh settled it in the dying moments.
Wenger added: “In the second half we created chance after chance but, with 89 minutes gone, it was still 4-2. We needed two goals and the miracle happened
“I don’t remember anything like our first half in my time here. They just scored when they wanted.
“They played well, at a higher pace than we did. We didn’t find our game at all.”
Arsenal surrendered a 4-0 lead against Newcastle in the Premier League last year.
Wenger said: “Reading had a fantastic first half. I know what it is like to be caught when you’re 4-0 up.
“At 4-1, I thought it was possible.”
Winger Walcott said: “I’ve never been involved in anything like that, it was an unbelievable game.
“We started sloppy and had to wake up. The boss told us we had to start playing. It wasn’t good enough and it was not Arsenal.
“We showed what we could do and never gave up. That is what the guys did and we are absolutely knackered now.”
Royals boss Brian McDermott was floored by the result.
He said: “It’s like a funeral. I wasn’t happy at half-time. Walcott’s goal gave them impetus and we didn’t need that.
“It was kamikaze football in the second half and in extra-time, even when we got back to 5-5.”
McDermott was unhappy that ref Kevin Friend played so much injury time at the end of 90 minutes, with Walcott striking in the SIXTH added minute.
McDermott said: “The ref put another two minutes on top of the four to make it six but that’s another story. You can’t get the time as wrong as that... but he did.
“I felt we needed to get the fifth goal — a ridiculous thing to say if you are 4-1 up.
“It’s the worst defeat of my career. The first 35 minutes we were extraordinary. It was bizarre to say the least.
“It’s embarrassing but we have to take that on the chin. We’re all gutted as we should have won comfortably.”