Arsenal comeback to beat Reading 7-5 was extraordinary, says Niall Quinn
Niall Quinn says Arsenal's 7-5 win over Reading in the Capital One Cup is "one of the greatest games ever".
Last Updated: 31/10/12 9:20am
The former Gunners defender, 46, doubted he'd ever seen a match like it after Arsene Wenger's side came back from 4-0 down in the first-half to draw 4-4 in normal time before securing a place in the quarter-finals by scoring three goals in extra-time.
Quinn, who won the League Cup winner with Arsenal in 1987, described the performance of hat-trick hero Theo Walcott as "incredible" but also hailed substitute Olivier Giroud for his match-changing display.
"It was just absolutely incredible," Quinn told Sky Sports after the match at the Madejski Stadium. "I had the privilege to be here - that's the best thing I can say about this game.
"From the moment it started to the moment it finished, it was the most extraordinary game that I've seen - possibly since I started in this profession many years ago. It was extraordinary.
"Reading will be thinking 'how did that happen? How did we score five, how were we involved in such a game and how was it robbed from us towards the end?
"But they can take great credit from playing a part in one of the greatest games ever. Both sets of players deserve such credit for the spirit the game was played in.
"We had a difficult weekend when it comes to sportsmanship in the Premier League, but this had everything that was great about the game of football.
"The referee [Kevin Friend] needs to get credit as well because every person, whether you are a young person or an old person who has watched football for 50 or 60 years, would have left this ground and said 'that was one of the best games of my life'."
Arsenal's hopes of reaching the last eight of the competition for a 10th successive year looked all but over when Noel Hunt scored Reading's fourth goal without reply on 37 minutes.
But Walcott pulled one back for the visitors in first-half injury-time and the winger, together with Wenger's decision to bring on Giroud after 61 minutes, acted as a catalyst for Arsenal's comeback.
"Walcott gave the club a lifeline," reflected Quinn. "They could go in with a little bit of positivity. Theo said it himself - that wasn't Arsenal in the first half. I said at half-time that I have never seen Arsenal play so poorly.
"Even the first five minutes of the second half weren't so good for them - Reading could easily have got a fifth and went very close, but then Arsenal got stuck into it and they got to where they did.
"Giroud changed the game definitely. He brought a different dimension and suddenly there was a different presence in the Reading box. He was losing people and getting headers in.
"[Laurent] Koscielny was truly awful in the first half but he made up for it with the third goal when there was only a minute or two left. The wobbles came in and the crowd got nervous.
"Reading's legs had started to go in extra-time and their spirit must have been dampened, of course, because they were so close to winning.
"Walcott was incredible in that second half; once Arsenal got a little bit of impetus, it was all through him and Giroud. They were the two who made the difference for me."