Arsenal have booked their place in the FA Cup final with a 2-1 win over Manchester City, courtesy of an extra-time strike from Alexis Sanchez.
Nacho Monreal’s equaliser deep into the second half cancelled out Sergio Agüero’s 62nd minute opener, leaving Sanchez to steal the headlines with a goal in the 101st minute to set a date with Chelsea in an all-London final next month.
The Gunners claimed the game’s first chance when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain found Olivier Giroud with a cross that was headed straight at Claudio Bravo, but it was Man City who emerged the strongest in the first half, as David Silva pulled a save out of Petr Čech in the 15th minute.
Sergio Agüero looked to pull the trigger in one of his rare openings for City, but couldn’t do much more than hit the side-netting in the 38th minute.
The Citizens will be aggrieved, however, to see an Agüero goal ruled out in the 40th minute, eventually bundled over by Sterling for further confirmation before the linesman judged Leroy Sané’s initial cross to have curved out of play before reaching its destination.
The officials continued to be in the limelight as the game drifted into half-time, dismissing a tug on Alexis Sanchez’s shirt by Jesus Navas inside the City box that would’ve otherwise seen the Chilean earn a penalty.
Granit Xhaka and Raheem Sterling traded blocked efforts from dangerous positions, with Arsenal appearing the strongest of the two sides following the half-time interval, but Agüero would soon shift the mood inside Wembley when racing away from Nacho Monreal on the counter and dinking the ball over a hesitant Čech, breaking the deadlock in the 62nd minute.
The Gunners continued to go toe-to-toe with City, however, and found themselves level no less than ten minutes later, as Monreal finished Chamberlain’s back-post cross expertly on his right foot.
Čech would go on to redeem himself in the 79th minute, getting the faintest of touches to push a Yaya Touré half-volley onto the post.
Arsenal were kept in the contest again by the woodwork in the 82nd minute, this time via Touré’s midfield partner, Fernandinho, with a strong header onto the crossbar from a corner.
Contrarily, second-half substitute Danny Welbeck might well have taken Arsène Wenger’s men over the line with four minutes to spare, but his placed finish could only graze the wrong side of Bravo’s far post before extra time.
Rob Holding claimed the first opportunity in the 6th minute of extra time, jumping in half-a-yard of space to head just over the crossbar.
Further joy for the North Londoners in front of goal would eventually come, set by Laurent Koscielny’s header back into the danger zone, as Welbeck miss-kicked his effort before Sanchez followed up to smash Arsenal into the lead.
Momentum remained on Arsenal’s side when Welbeck scuppered a great opportunity make it 3-1 with a header at the back-post, as the two sides entered the final break of the game.
Through Kevin De Bruyne, City charged on in search of the all-important equaliser, but Fabian Delph would go on to fail to find the target from the Belgian’s lay-off in the 110th minute, with Holding playing his part.
De Bruyne himself neared the leveller, flashing a strike across goal that remained untouched on its way out four minutes later.
The Gunners also continued to look threatening on the counter in the meantime, but two goals would be all Arsenal required to make it past City and into the FA Cup final.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Petr Čech (6); Gabriel Paulista (8), Laurent Koscielny (7), Rob Holding (7); Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (8), Granit Xhaka (7), Aaron Ramsey (8), Nacho Monreal (7); Mesut Özil (6), Olivier Giroud (5), Alexis Sanchez (7)
Subs: Danny Welbeck (6), Héctor Bellerín (6), Francis Coquelin (5)