Aaron Ramsey's 109th-minute winner completed a stunning comeback to deliver Arsenal's first major trophy for nine years against a spirited Hull City in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
James Chester and Curtis Davies' goals inside nine minutes had the Tigers dreaming of a first ever major trophy in their history but Santi Cazorla's superb free-kick thrust the Gunners back into the game.
Laurent Koscielny turned home the equaliser with 19 minutes of normal time remaining to force a extra time during which Ramsey tucked away his 13th goal of the season to clinch Arsenal's first piece of silverware since 2005.
While Hull boss Steve Bruce is likely to take great solace from his side's brave performance, victory adds much-needed gravitas to a season for Arsenal which - amid qualifying for the Champions League for a 17th straight season - is expected to end with manager Arsene Wenger extending his contract at the Emirates Stadium.
Seeking to end a trophy-drought stretching back to the cup final penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United, Wenger opted to retain Lukasz Fabianski is goal after the Pole had featured in every round during Arsenal's route to the final, ahead of No.1 Wojciech Szczesny.
Opposite number Bruce – a two-time winner of the competition as a player with United – was looking to evoke FA Cup romanticism in his line up as son Alex Bruce was selected at the heart of the Hull defence.
In attack, Matty Fryatt, who had netted four times in the Tigers' run to Wembley, was preferred to Yannick Sagbo as Hull went in search of the first major trophy of their 110-year history.
But if the underdogs Hull were feeling the nerves in their first ever FA Cup final, then it barely registered as after dominating possession from kick-off they stormed into a lead inside four minutes.
David Meyler's corner found the untracked Tom Huddlestone on the edge of the Arsenal box and the former Tottenham midfielder's first time volley was directed in by James Chester beyond the hapless Fabianski.
And barely nine minutes had been played before Hull were in dreamland as they doubled their advantage. Stephen Quinn outfoxed Kieran Gibbs on the left and when Bruce's header beat Fabianski but rebounded off the post, Davies reacted first to hammer home.
As the Gunners continued to look lackadaisical in possession, Hull's aerial dominance was a continuing factor and only Gibbs' goal-line clearance denied Bruce putting Hull three-up inside the opening quarter of an hour.
It was a reprieve which Arsenal used to deadly effect as their first sustained period of possession led to Cazorla curling a delicious free-kick beyond Allan McGregor.
The goal naturally thrust Arsenal into the ascendency and Mesut Ozil would have drawn them level had he made better contract from Olivier Giroud's cross or after Cazorla's free-kick, a goal-bound effort which was headed clear by Davies.
Bruce's team had to withstand constant pressure and it required further blocks from Chester from Giroud's placed effort and Davies as Gibbs drove from 25 yards, to keep their lead intact.
With Fryatt becoming increasingly isolated up front, Hull were struggling to break up Arsenal attacks with meaningful possession and as the north London club put the squeeze on late in the first half they almost contributed to their own downfall as Quinn was disposed by Ramsey but to no avail
The second period began in similar circumstances to how the first 45 minutes ended with Arsenal assured in possession but without creating any clear cut openings while Hull were feeding off scraps in the final third.
The introduction of Yaya Sanogo, who replaced the limp Lukas Podolski, bolstered the Arsenal forward line heading into the final half hour and though Koscielny headed wide from Cazorla's corner, chances were at the premium for Wenger's men.
Only when Hull, as Livermore's cross evaded Fryatt, chose to attack were Arsenal able to open them up and Davies was fortunate not to concede a penalty when he tripped Cazorla.
But eventually the pressure told as Hull failed to clear Cazorla's corner and when Bacary Sagna's header deflected off Giroud, Koscielny reacted first to sweep home from six yards.
Having squandered a two-goal lead, Hull were starting to look jaded and Arsenal should have put the game to bed as Sanogo's cross found its way to Gibbs, who cleared the bar as McGregor scrambled across his goal.
The Scottish international came to the rescue to deny Giroud's volley as the game entered the dying embers of normal time before Sanogo, chasing his first Arsenal goal, shot wide with a minute remaining.
Hull were able to hold out for extra-time but their role in the final was being reduced to spectator as Arsenal's dominance took on a different dimension. First Giroud's effort was blocked after Sanogo's lay-off, before the France international rattled the bar with a thumping header.
Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky were introduced at half-time in extra time as substitute Sony Aluko and Fryatt continue to plough a lone furrow up front, and the changes produced immediate reward.
Wilshere fed the ball into Sanogo and after the ball broke off Giroud, Ramsey stabbed home past a despairing McGregor.
Arsenal had 12 minutes in which to hold out but almost lost their lead as Fabianski was beaten to the ball by Aluko only for Nigerian international to miss the target from the tight angle.
But Arsenal did see out the victory to become the first team since 1966 to comeback from two goals down in an FA Cup final to firmly silence the doubters over their capacity to win major silverware.