Arsenal and Milan rally on night of comebacks

Theo Walcott celebrates his third goal and Arsenal's sixth as the Gunners complete a remarkable comeback at Reading.

Story highlights

  • Arsenal stage stunning rally as they come from 4-0 down to beat Reading 7-5 in League Cup
  • Milan trail 2-0 at Palermo before drawing 2-2 as coach Allegri continues to feel pressure
  • Stephan El Shaarawy's late strike takes him to top of Serie A scoring charts with 7 goals
  • Barcelona and Dortmund win opening matches of their Spanish and German Cup defenses

Two of Europe's biggest clubs staged dramatic comebacks on Tuesday as Arsenal rallied from 4-0 down to beat Reading 7-5 in the English League Cup while struggling Italian heavyweights AC Milan drew 2-2 at Palermo in Serie A.

The results will have different impacts for both coaches, with manager Arsene Wenger's position seemingly safe at Arsenal while Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri will continue to face pressure as his side's indifferent form goes on.

In Tuesday's only top-flight league game in Italy, Palermo led 2-0 shortly after halftime whereupon the under-fire Allegri changed his tactical plan to good effect, switching from his favored 3-5-2 to a 4-2-3-1 while also introducing Bojan Krkic as a substitute.

The former Barcelona player had an instant impact, teeing up a goal for Riccardo Montolivo before Stephan El Shaarawy leveled the game 10 minutes from time, with the 20-year-old's seventh league goal of the season taking him to the top of the scoring charts.

The point bought Allegri a little more breathing space as the seven-time European champions moved into the top half of the table, yet they still trail league leaders and old rivals Juventus by 14 points with just a quarter of the season gone.

Berlusconi sentenced, blames politics
Berlusconi

    JUST WATCHED

    Berlusconi sentenced, blames politics

MUST WATCH

Berlusconi sentenced, blames politics 02:23
PLAY VIDEO
Can AC Milan rebuild this season?
Can AC Milan rebuild this season?

    JUST WATCHED

    Can AC Milan rebuild this season?

MUST WATCH

Can AC Milan rebuild this season? 02:54
PLAY VIDEO

With Allegri's position under constant scrutiny and club president -- and former Italian Prime Minister -- Silvio Berlusconi having been sentenced to four years in prison for tax evasion, the start to Milan's season has been anything but easy.

Wenger has also been criticized after mixed recent results, and his team -- featuring 11 changes from Saturday's hard-fought win over lowly Queens Park Rangers -- went 4-0 down after just 37 minutes against another team stuck in the Premier League's relegation zone.

Seconds before halftime, Theo Walcott scored the first goal of a special hat-trick, with his second coming six minutes into stoppage time to force extra-time.

The England international's his 120th-minute goal gave Arsenal a 6-5 lead, which was later extended by Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh's second of the match.

"The first set is for us, it was a tennis game today," joked Wenger afterwards. "There were so many turning points. The goal to make it 4-1 just before halftime was important, as was the miracle goal in the (90th) minute."

Wenger was forced to face disgruntled supporters at a stormy annual general meeting last week, where many fans were unhappy to hear him place qualification for the UEFA Champions League above winning a trophy.

The Gunners have failed to pick up any silverware since 2005 but they have now made it into the quarterfinals of the League Cup, on a night when fellow Premier League sides Sunderland, Wigan and Southampton all exited the competition.

Meanwhile, Reading became the first team to score five goals in a non-qualifying round of either the League Cup or FA Cup and lose a game.

Meanwhile, Spanish league leaders Barcelona began the defense of their Copa del Rey title with a 3-0 victory at third division team Deportivo Alaves.

Regular first-teamers David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas scored in the first-leg tie, while fellow La Liga side Valencia won 2-0 at Llagostera.

German Cup holders Borussia Dortmund reached the third round with a 4-1 win at second division Aalen, while fellow Bundesliga sides Schalke, Freiburg and Mainz also went through.

        Football Focus

      • French football great bids adieu

        After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
      • Mario's 'Queen' tweet tops 2014 list

        He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
      • bpr south african soccor senzo meyiwa death _00000402.jpg

        Loss of a South African 'icon'

        Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
      • German alleged jihadist Kreshnik B (R) listens to his lawyer Mutlu Guenal (L) as he arrives at the higher regional court in Frankfurt. His face is pixelated for legal reasons.

        From Jewish football to ISIS suspect

        Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
      • Where has 'Super' Mario gone?

        One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
      • Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.

        Should rapist return to work?

        Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
      • Teen, 15, makes Euro history

        Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.