Flashback: Cup success at Highbury

Published:
by Oscar Chamberlain

Stewart brace earns Sunderland famous win.

A young Sunderland outfit produced one of their most famous comebacks to defeat Arsenal 3-2 at Highbury.

Marcus Stewart’s brace, as well as a strike from Kevin Kyle, steered Howard Wilkinson’s side to a rare moment of glory during the 2002-03 season.

Goals from Robert Pires and Francis Jeffers had put Arsene Wenger’s side 2-0 up at the break with a mountain to climb, but Sunderland fought back spectacularly in the second half.

Both sides had made changes for the clash, the Gunners changing their entire starting XI from their previous league game whilst Wilkinson made nine changes to the Black Cats side.

The hosts were ahead after nine minutes as Giovanni van Bronckhorst pulled a low free-kick back from the left, and Pires powered a 20-yard drive through a crowd of players.

Jeffers looked to have put the tie to bed on the half hour as he latched onto Nwankwo Kanu’s pass and slid the ball beyond Jurgen Macho in the Sunderland goal.

The turnaround began after Austrian stopper Macho saved what looked a certain goal by brilliantly turning away van Bronckhorst's fierce shot.

Scottish striker Kyle gave the Black Cats hope on the hour mark as he rose to thump home Stewart’s knock-back.

Arsenal centre-backs Igor Stepanovs and Stathis Tavlaridis began to look vulnerable as Sunderland equalised when Stewart delicately put away youngster Michael Proctor's cross from the right.

This was Stewart's third goal in the competition after he'd bagged a brace in the 7-0 win over Cambridge in the previous round.

Two minutes later the comeback was complete when Stewart headed his second of the night, getting in ahead of Oleg Luzhny to convert substitute Matthew Piper's cross.

The Gunners applied late pressure with near-misses from Jeffers and van Bronckhorst but it was Sunderland fans who were left celebrating with their first victory at Highbury in 19 years.

Sunderland: Macho, Varga, McCartney, Thome, Williams, Thirlwell, Schwarz (Piper, 45), Rossier, Stewart, Proctor, Kyle.

Subs not used: Turns, Clark, Byrne, Dickman, Piper.