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Blackburn Rovers’ goal scorer Colin Kazim-Richards celebrates with teammate Lee Williamson (right) after their FA Cup match win over Arsenal in the Emirates Stadium, London, yesterday.
LONDON: Colin Kazim-Richards’ 72nd minute goal ensured second-tier Blackburn Rovers dumped a stunned Arsenal out of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win at the Premier League aristocrats’ Emirates Stadium yesterday.
It was the first time Arsenal have exited the competition at the hands of lower league opposition since Arsene Wenger took charge of the club in 1996.
And this defeat came as a major blow ahead of the Champions League visit of Bayern Munich on Tuesday, with Arsenal desperate to end a major trophy drought stretching back to when they last lifted the FA Cup in 2005.
But for Indian-owned Blackburn, a victory that took them into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup marked a rare high-point after an extended period of decline marked by last season’s relegation from the Premier League.
Arsenal dominated the game for long periods but Kazim-Richards, a boyhood Arsenal fan, made the most of a rare opportunity midway through the second half.And the final whistle was greeted with loud boos from home supporters who made it clear they were unhappy with Wenger’s team selection.
The significance of the visit of Bayern was reflected in Wenger’s decision to make seven changes to the side that won at Sunderland and rest a number of his bigger names, who are certain to start against the Germans.
The manager decided against risking Jack Wilshere’s thigh injury and the midfielder was joined on the substitutes’ bench by Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla.
The decision prevented visiting Bayern scouts from getting a good look at the players Wenger expects to influence the Champions League clash -- but there was little else to concern the German club.
Meanwhile, Oldham’s Matt Smith caused more FA Cup drama as the League One giant-killers snatched a late equaliser to hold Everton to a 2-2 draw in the fifth round.Agencies