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Arsenal shot in the leg

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

LONDON - Arsenal suffered one of the most humiliating defeats in their history as League Two minnows Bradford City clinched a stunning triumph on penalties after a 1-1 draw in English soccer's League Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday.

The Gunners have endured a traumatic campaign including their worst start to a Premier League campaign in manager Arsene Wenger's 16-year reign, but this was a new low for a club now in the midst of a full-blown crisis.

Not even Arsenal's most ardent critic would have believed they could produce such a spineless display against a team from English football's fourth tier.

After Bradford midfielder Garry Thompson took advantage of woeful Arsenal defending to volley home a free-kick at the far post in the 16th minute, Phil Parkinson's side must have expected to be tested to the limit by their illustrious opponents at Valley Parade.

But instead, a strong Arsenal team took until the 88th minute to equalise when Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen headed home from a Santi Cazorla cross.

The Gunners were just as laboured in extra-time and they paid the price in the penalty shootout, which Bradford won 3-2 as Cazorla's kick was saved by Matt Duke and Marouane Chamakh and Vermaelen both hit the post.

Bradford's ninth successive penalty shootout victory booked their first appearance in the League Cup semi-finals.

Aston Villa scored three goals in the final 11 minutes to beat Norwich 4-1 on Tuesday and advance to the League Cup semis.