Arsenal staged a stunning League Cup fightback at Reading after trailing 4-0 in the first half yesterday, advancing to the quarter-finals with a 7-5 extra-time victory after Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick.
Walcott netted in injury time in both halves and then in the last minute of extra time as well in a game that always seemed to offer up a new twist.
"It was an unbelievable game. I'm absolutely knackered now," Walcott said. "We've scored seven goals away from home - it was great going forward. Maybe defensively it wasn't great at times, but we're in the draw and that's what matters."
Arsenal's performance in the first half was so poor that some Gunners fans left after the team conceded a fourth goal in the 37th minute as Reading dominated against their Premier League rival.
But after Walcott pulled one back just before half-time, he took the game into extra time with a last-gasp equaliser in the sixth minute of stoppage time. Substitute Olivier Giroud had netted the second for Arsenal and Laurent Koscielny, who earlier scored an own goal, made it 4-3 in the 89th.
Marouane Chamakh put Arsenal ahead for the first time in extra time with his first goal in almost a year, but Reading drew level again when Pavel Pogrebnyak made it 5-5 with four minutes to go.
Walcott then completed his hat-trick by slotting in a rebound from Andrei Arshavin's effort and Chamakh lobbed goalkeeper Adam Federici in the closing exchanges to ensure Arsenal advanced.
thrilling night for juniors
On a thrilling night for English football's second-tier knockout competition, three Premier League clubs - Southampton, Sunderland and Wigan - were beaten by lower-league opposition.
The biggest shock came at Wigan where fourth-tier club Bradford won a penalty shootout 4-2 after the match ended 0-0.
Premier League strugglers Southampton exited after losing 3-0 to Leeds of the League Championship. Goals from Michael Tonge and El-Hadji Diouf, as well as Luciano Becchio's penalty kick, steered Leeds into the quarter-finals for the first time since 1996.
Middlesbrough advanced after Scott McDonald's goal secured a 1-0 victory at northeast rival Sunderland.
It was a nervy night for Aston Villa, which only eliminated third-tier club Swindon 3-2 after Christian Benteke's 90th-minute goal.