Steve Bruce hailed his heroic Hull City players after their FA Cup dream ended in heartbreak.
Hull led 2-0 at a sun-soaked Wembley after a scarcely-believable opening eight minutes that saw James Chester and Curtis Davies score from set-pieces.
But they couldn’t hold on as wave after wave of Arsenal attack brought an instant response from Santi Cazorla and an equaliser from Laurent Koscielny 19 minutes from time.
Shattered Hull were left hanging on for penalties until Aaron Ramsey broke their hearts when he scored the winner 11 minutes from time, poking the ball home after Olivier Giroud’s delicious back heel.
“The vast majority who played today are the ones that got me promoted last year and you could,” said Bruce of a Hull City team who have won promotion, consolidated their position in the Premier League and reached a first major Cup final in his two years in charge.
“They’ve had a wonderful couple of years, it would have made it more historic if we’d have won it today.
“But we were dropping like flies and that’s always the problem we faced.
“We had a number of injuries and it told in the end.
“Sometimes your name’s on it but it wasn’t our day.
“At one stage I thought our name was on the Cup, but it wasn’t to be.”
Bruce admitted he thought there were contentious decisions by referee Lee Probert in the build up to both goals Arsenal scored in the regulation 90 minutes.
He and his players felt there was no foul in the build-up to Cazorla’s 16th-minute free-kick and that the corner that led to Koscielny’s equaliser should have been a goal-kick to the Yorkshire side.
“I’d like to have another look at both goals because there were a couple of big decisions in there,” he said.
“It’s not the time to whinge...but it does cost you.
“We’re delighted with what we’ve done, we now have to move forward.
“The one thing you have to be is gracious in defeat. Arsene (Wenger) is a top-class manager and from all of us we say congratulations to Arsenal and to Arsene.”