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Controversies mar Arsenal win

A CONTROVERSIAL late winner by William Gallas earned Arsenal a 2-1 victory over Hull City in their FA Cup quarterfinal match on Tuesday and set up a last four showdown with Chelsea at Wembley.

The French defender flicked in a close-range header from what appeared to be an offside decision shortly after Dutchman Robin Van Persie had equalized for the Gunners.

Arsenal had trailed to Nicky Barmby's early strike and was not posing much threat until Hull buckled late on.

Hull, hoping to reach the last four of the FA Cup for the first time in 79 years, started brightly and took the lead after 13 minutes when Barmby's effort deflected off Johan Djourou and evaded Arsenal's reserve keeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Arsenal, which made six changes from the side that beat Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, took a long time to respond and Barmby had another effort ruled out for offside.

As the clock ticked down Hull's resistance finally broke when Andrei Arshavin set up Van Persie, who sent a rising shot past Hull keeper Boaz Myhill.

Hull had a chance to regain the lead through Brazilian Geovanni but it was sunk when Myhill flapped at high ball played into the area and Gallas, who was stood all on his own in the six-yard area, headed the winner.

A furious Hull manager Phil Brown blamed referee Mike Riley and his linesman for the loss.

"You can talk all about Arsenal's passing as much as you want, but coming in at halftime I felt as if we deserved to be in front," Brown said.

"There was no excuse for the first goal, it was a mistake by us. No excuse for the second goal, it was definitely a mistake by the officials. That's why we're out of the FA Cup. Ask Mr. Riley how much that's going to cost Hull City. I don't think he'd understand, I don't think he'd care."

Brown said he could not use the word "cheat," but thanked journalists for asking a question about whether he felt that way.

"You used the word. I can't use that word I'm afraid, but that is the case," Brown said.

"I didn't mention the word 'cheat.' You did," he told reporters.

Wenger denied that Gallas was offside.

"The ball was deflected by the fist of the goalkeeper, consequently the ball comes from an opponent and it's a normal goal," Wenger said. It hit "Djourou first, the goalkeeper after, and then it was a foul on Gallas. Penalty. In fact, we should have got two goals."

The FA Cup win in 2005 over Manchester United was Arsenal's last trophy and Wenger has been under increasing pressure from fans to win silverware this season.

The FA Cup represents Arsenal's best chance, because the team has struggled in the Premier League and narrowly advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals in a penalty shootout against AS Roma last week.


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