Bradford land Wenger in spot of bother
Soccer round-up:Arsenal suffered an embarrassment of epic proportions as they lost on 3-2 on penalties to a battling Bradford side whose achievement should rank among football’s all-time giant-killing feats.Phil Parkinson’s League Two players did not just beat Arsenal in this Capital One Cup quarter-final, for much of this match they outplayed Arsene Wenger’s woeful Gunners to reach a first ever semi-final.
The spot-kick specialists won their ninth successive penalty shoot-out after Thomas Vermaelen struck the post.
The Arsenal skipper had earlier appeared to rescue the Gunners with a header three minutes from normal time to equalise Garry Thompson’s first-half volley.
But goalkeeper Matt Duke defied the Premier League side to send the tie to a shoot-out - and glory for Bradford.
The defeat in sub-zero temperatures, and another failure in Arsenal’s seven-year quest for silverware, will chill the veins of Wenger as he contemplates the season so far.
The humiliation was further intensified by Wenger’s breaking his long-held rule and fielding a full-strength side in the League Cup.
In the night’s other League Cup tie, Andreas Weimann struck twice as Aston Villacame from behind to book a place in the semi-finals with a 4-1 win at Norwichas manager Paul Lambert enjoyed a triumphant return to his old club.
Lambert received a mixed welcome as he walked out at Carrow Road, with a few jeers heard among general applause for the man who masterminded the Norfolk club’s meteoric rise up to the top flight from the depths of League One.
However, the former Canaries boss, who is in dispute with his old employers after an acrimonious departure during the summer, enjoyed the last laugh as substitute Weimann hit a second-half brace to turn the tie around after Brent Holman had cancelled out Steve Morison’s opener.
Christian Benteke cracked in a fourth during stoppage time to move Villa a step closer to Wembley.
James McClean turned the clock back a year as Sunderlandhanded manager Martin O’Neill a long overdue Premier League victory as they beat Reading3-0 at the Stadium of Light.
Twelve months to the day since making his senior debut for the Black Cats as a substitute in O’Neill’s first game in charge, a 2-1 win over Blackburn, the Republic of Ireland international fired them into a third-minute lead which they were never in danger of relinquishing.
Striker Steven Fletcher, whose return from an ankle injury gave his team an all together more threatening appearance, increased the advantage with an audacious 28th-minute backheel, before Stephane Sessegnon rounded goalkeeper Adam Federici at the death to secure just a third league win in 24 attempts and the first against 11 men since March.
O’Neill was adamant in the run up to the rearranged fixture that it was not a must-win affair, and with owner and chairman Ellis Short a supportive presence at the stadium before kick-off, the club was presenting a united front.
However, a comfortable victory which lifted Sunderland out of the relegation zone was welcome nonetheless as some of the darker clouds hanging over the Stadium of Light dispersed.
The same cannot be said of promoted Reading, who remain locked in a battle for survival having won only one top-flight game to date, and who showed few signs of improving upon that record on Wearside in front of a crowd of 37,723.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit a hat-trick as Paris St Germainturned up the pressure on Ligue 1 leaders Lyonwith a 4-0 thumping of Valenciennes.
The Sweden striker opened the scoring in the 28th minute and added a second four minutes after the break.
The former AC Milan frontman completed his treble just four minutes later and Ezequiel Lavezzi rounded off a convincing win for the visitors eight minutes from time.
Victory moved Carlo Ancelotti’s men two points behind Lyon and three ahead of Marseille, although both have a game in hand.