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Horncastle: The end of the "Rafalution"?

Serie A about an hour ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 27, 2011

Jubilant Martins celebrates victory

Birmingham City hero Obafemi Martins described the goal which won the Carling Cup as "the easiest of my career''.

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Martins took advantage of a mix-up between Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and defender Laurent Koscielny to score the winning goal in a 2-1 success in the 89th minute.

And on-loan Rubin Kazan player Martins admitted afterwards on Sky Sports: "I think this is the easiest goal I've ever scored in my career - and it's very important. I'm glad I scored today and I'm glad we won. I think it was my second touch. I'm very happy.

"The gaffer (Alex McLeish) said to me that I would come on in the second half, so I think he did it right. It means a lot to the fans and players - we really need this trophy.''

McLeish hailed the win as his "greatest achievement'' as a manager.

McLeish said: "Relatively speaking, it is my greatest achievement. With Glasgow Rangers I was expected to win trophies, even though it is difficult against Celtic. To come to England and for a club like Birmingham to beat the might of Arsenal is a dream come true.

"It is especially so for the fans who have had a long wait, those long-suffering Blues fans. No one gave us a prayer, we were underdogs. But sometimes the bookies don't get it right. After the goal I really did have the vision of the cup in my hands.''

It was a perfect day for Birmingham owner Carson Yeung, who was celebrating his 51st birthday.

McLeish said: "It's a fantastic birthday present for Carson. He must think it's easy being an owner of a football club - we finish ninth in the Premier League and then win the Carling Cup - but he has been supportive.''

McLeish admits Birmingham have no major celebrations planned until after next weekend's league clash with West Brom, with a civic reception provisionally arranged for next Sunday.

He said: "We didn't plan anything. We have reserved next weekend, the day after the West Brom game, for celebrations. The West Brom game is another cup final.''

Birmingham keeper Ben Foster repeated his 2009 achievement with Manchester United against Tottenham in being voted the man of the match for the final. Foster pulled off a string of superb saves to help Blues triumph.

He said: "We kept plugging away and got what I think we deserved. It was a fantastic result. Going into games like this with United, it is expected you will be winning trophies and winning matches.

"But, with a team like Birmingham, it is against all odds and we are not expected to win. It is just a great achievement to get here, and to actually win it against a quality side like Arsenal is amazing.''

City can now look forward to attempting to qualify for the Europa League via next summer's qualifying rounds. Foster said: "When I signed, I was just relieved to be playing first-team football.

"It has gone from strength to strength for me. I am delighted to be playing with a team like Birmingham. The team spirit is amazing. Europe is something to look forward to next year but we just need to kick on and get a few more wins in the league.''

Captain Stephen Carr praised match-winner Martins, saying: "He showed that bit of sharpness when he came on. He's a handful.''

Carr then dedicated the win to the Birmingham fans.

"That will make their year, make their life probably,'' he said. "A lot of people have been waiting a long time for this. We knew if we got right in (Arsenal's) faces we could get the result. We kept going and we just got that little bit of luck at the end.''

Blues midfielder Lee Bowyer continued on Sky Sports: "Everyone underestimated us ... but we're going home as champions. It's unbelievable.

"I think we deserved it overall, we kept pressing and pressing and the gameplan worked, Martins came on and we nicked it.''

On his own performance, the widely-travelled midfielder added: "Still box-to-box, not bad for 34 is it?''

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