The gunners kept their hopes of silverware alive this season as they sealed a victory against Manchester City to book their place in the FA Cup final on Sunday at Wembley.
By Carlo Chikomba
Alexis Sanchez extra-time winner settled matters as Arsene Wenger’s men defeated Manchester City 2-1 in a crunch FA Cup semi-final.
Going into the match, Arsenal were under pressure to perform as a string of below par performances in the Premier League has left the North London club’s Uefa League qualification credentials in serious doubt.
The Gunners had the first real chance of the game when Olivier Giroud’s header was aimed straight at Claudio Bravo. At the other end, Petr Cech had to be sharp to keep out David Silva’s aerial effort off the crossing of Aguero.
Laurent Koscielny appeared to find the back of the net but his effort was correctly ruled offside.
The Citizens were dealt a major blow when their talisman Silva had to be replaced by Raheem Sterling having suffered an injury off the challenge of Gabriel.
City began to assert themselves more and more and their star striker Aguero had a penalty claim turned down after he went down from slight contact from Oxlade-Chamberlain in the box.
It was proving to be a frustrating day for Guardiola’s men as Aguero forced Leroy Sane’s curling cross over the line but the officials ruled the ball had gone out of play before it reached the striker although replay suggested otherwise.
The game went into half time with nothing separating both sides but in the 62nd minute, City went ahead after some slick counter-attacking play.
Aaron Ramsey lost possession to Toure just outside the City area and the Ivorian released Aguero who raced past Monreal before expertly putting the ball over Cech to thunderous celebrations at Wembley.
Wenger’s men did not take this lying down with Ozil’s shot going just wide before the Gunners restored parity with 19 minutes to go.
Oxlade-Chamberlain delivered a sumptuous cross which was met by the oncoming Monreal and the wing-back struck in an excellent volley from six yards out.
City pushed for a winner after that but were denied by the post twice, the first from a stunning 20-yard drive by Toure which was tipped onto the bar by Cech and the other from Fernandinho’s head effort from eight yards.
As both sides could not find a winning goal, the game went into extra time and after 100 minutes, the Gunners fired ahead. Giroud’s substitute, Danny Welbeck missed Koscielny’s knock-down from a corner but Chilean forward Sanchez made no such mistake as he pounced on the loose ball to fire in from close range.
Guardiola’s charges went all out in the closing stages of the match but the Gunners held on to their lead as they continue their search for a third FA Cup crown in four years.