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F.A. Cup holder Arsenal can’t get through Forest

Reuters

Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson squats in dejection after losing to Nottingham Forest in their English F.A. Cup third-round match in Nottingham on Sunday.

AFP LONDON (AFP-Jiji) — English F.A. Cup holder Arsenal was sensationally dumped out of the competition by Nottingham Forest on Sunday, joining Leeds United as big-name casualties on a day of shocks.

Elsewhere, West Ham stayed alive with a goalless draw at Shrewsbury, and Tottenham scored three goals in eight second-half minutes to see off the challenge of League One side AFC Wimbledon.

Championship side Forest revived memories of its glory years under Brian Clough, putting 13-time winner Arsenal to the sword in an incident-packed 4-2 win at the City Ground.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who made nine changes to the side that drew with Chelsea in the Premier League in midweek, defended his team selection for the third-round tie.

“We have many players on the edge and we play again on Wednesday,” he said. “When you don’t win, the selection is always questioned.

“I believe we had an experienced team — eight or nine internationals. It would be easy to think that was the problem.”

U.S. international Eric Lichaj opened the scoring for the home side with a header midway through the first half, but Per Mertesacker equalized for the away team just three minutes later.

However, Forest continued to probe an inexperienced Arsenal line-up and got its reward just before halftime, when Lichaj volleyed in spectacularly from the edge of the box.

Wenger, serving a touchline ban, was forced to watch powerless from the stands as Rob Holding conceded a penalty that teenager Ben Brereton converted in the 64th minute to stretch the home side’s lead to 3-1.

Danny Welbeck gave Arsenal hope with just over 10 minutes to go, but Kieran Dowell netted from the penalty spot again to seal victory for the second-tier side over the Premier League visitors.

In a breathless final few minutes, Forest’s Joe Worrall was sent off, but it was too late for Arsenal to take advantage.

Nottingham Forest’s caretaker manager Gary Brazil said the result was something the former European champions could build on.

“This football club should be playing against the Arsenals of this world, and they should be beating them,” he added.

“These fans deserve to be watching Premier League teams, and that’s what we’ve got to drive towards.”

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