Gunners conjure greatest escape


Soccer:Arsenal were four down to Reading inside 40 minutes of abject football from the Gunners, but ended the evening with the lion's share of a dozen goals for a remarkable 7-5 win at Madejski Stadium and a place in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.

Arsene Wenger's side look shell-shocked in the early encounters, "not good enough for Arsenal" according to Theo Walcott afterwards, whose second in extra-time finally broke Reading's resistance before Marouane Chamakh killed them off completely with a seventh.

Reading, third from bottom in the Premier League, notched four goals in the opening 37 minutes thanks to Jason Roberts, Mikele Leigertwood, a Laurent Koscielny own goal and Noel Hunt.

Walcott gave the Gunners hope just before the break and impressive substitute Olivier Giroud made it 4-2 on 64 minutes with a classy header.

Koscielny made up for his earlier error with another headed goal in the 89th minute before Walcott bundled the equaliser in from close range deep into injury time.

Arsenal thought their comeback was complete when the much maligned Chamakh, making his first start since January, drilled the ball home after 103 minutes before Pavel Pogrebnyak pulled Reading level with a header from six metres.

Then, just as the goalkeepers were preparing for a penalty shootout, Andrei Arshavin's shot was cleared off the line by a Reading boot and feel kindly for Walcott who gleefully scored his third goal of the night.

Chamakh added Arsenal's seventh goal just before the whistle.

Scott McDonald earned Middlesbrougha quarter-final place with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sunderlandin their Wear-Tees derby at the Stadium of Light.

The striker, who was handed a start by Boro boss Tony Mowbray after he scored both of the goals in last weekend's 2-1 npower Championship win over Bolton from the bench, scrambled the ball home from six yards at the near post late in the first half.

It was enough for Middlesbrough to progress as Sunderland lacked the cutting edge that has seen them draw six of their eight Barclays Premier League games so far this season.

Leeds Unitedsecured another top-flight scalp as they brushed aside Southampton3-0 at Elland Road.

Saints manager Nigel Adkins' decision to make 11 changes backfired on him as goals from Michael Tonge, El-Hadji Diouf and Luciano Becchio saw the home side through.

It took until the 70th minute for Southampton, who have been struggling in the Premier League this season, to register a shot at goal and it will be Leeds, third-round conquerors of Everton, who enter the hat on Wednesday night for a first quarter-final appearance since 1996 - a year they made the final.

Aston Villaare through to the quarter-finals for the third time in four seasons after Christian Benteke scored a late winner in a 3-2 victory over Swindonat the County Ground.

Villa looked to be cruising to victory as goals from Benteke - a £7 million summer signing from Genk - and Gabriel Agbonlahor earned them a 2-0 half-time lead.

But the npower League One side, who had already overcome Stoke in this season's competition, fought back through two goals from substitute Miles Storey before Benteke had the final say.

It was his third goal in two games and Villa boss Paul Lambert will hope his side can build on this success after their worst start to a league campaign in 43 years.

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