A dejected Steve Bruce praised the "courage" of his Hull players after they fell just short of winning the FA Cup in the club's first appearance in the competition's final in their 110-year history. "The vast majority who played today were the ones who got promoted [to the Premier League] last year and you could see why, and why they have gone on to have the season they've had," said the manager.

"They showed an incredible amount of courage and on another day we might have won the Cup. It just wasn't to be."

Bruce, who won the FA Cup on three occasions as a player in the 1990s with Manchester United, described the aftermath of Saturday's match as no "time to whinge", yet he was clearly annoyed with the decisions that led to the two goals Arsenal scored after they found themselves behind to James Chester and Curtis Davies's early strikes.

Bruce suggested that the free-kick from which Santi Cazorla struck on 17 minutes should not have awarded by the referee, Lee Probert, and that the corner from which Laurent Koscielny equalised on 71 minutes should have instead been given as a Hull goalkick. Replays showed that Yaya Sanogo got the final touch to Oliver Giroud's cross.

"When you're 2-0 up it's quite remarkable and what you're hoping for is to get to half-time," Bruce said. "There were a big couple of decisions which if they are wrong have cost us. But congratulations to Arsenal, they have come back from a position from where they were down and out. And congratulations to Arsène Wenger, he is a top-class manager. Why he gets the stick he does I don't know."

This remains an admirable season for Hull, who as well as reaching the FA Cup final also maintained their Premier League status. Ultimately tired minds and tired legs cost them here, although they did come close to snatching a late equaliser through Sone Aluko after Aaron Ramsey had put Arsenal ahead in extra-time.

"We are delighted with what we have done [this season]," said Bruce. "We now have to move forward."