Arsenal v Man City
23 Apr 2017 - 3:00 PM
Arsenal 2 - 1 Manchester City (AET)
Emirates FA Cup semi-final
Alexis Sanchez’s extra-time winner saw Arsenal come from behind to reach a record 20th Emirates FA Cup Final.
So often City’s hero, Sergio Aguero edged his team into the lead on the hour-mark, but Arsenal’s leveller came from the most unlikely of sources – left-back Nacho Monreal hitting only his third goal for the Gunners and his first since March 2015.
Arsene Wenger’s team had grown into the game after a tepid first half and got their winner when Sanchez lashed in from close range to set up a derby date with Chelsea back at Wembley on 27 May.
City were the better team in the opening 45 minutes, dominating possession, though they were unable to create many clear-cut chances.
Kevin De Bruyne was first to try his luck, but the Belgium playmaker fizzed a 25-yard effort wide across goal.
Arsenal responded with a blistering counter-attack that culminated in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain crossing for Olivier Giroud, but the France striker’s header was comfortably caught by Claudio Bravo.
Midway through the first half Raheem Sterling was introduced in place of the injured David Silva and almost instantly made his mark, with perfectly-struck volley from the edge of the box that crept wide.
With both sides struggling for meaningful goalmouth action, City’s man for all occasions Aguero looked to force the issue, but his low drive hit the side-netting at the near post.
Arsenal were on top in the opening quarter of the second half, with Oxlade-Chamberlain at the heart of their best work.
Yet for all of their intent and endeavour Bravo was largely untested and the Gunners were made to pay on 62 minutes when Aguero opened the scoring.
From an Arsenal corner Yaya Toure stole possession on the edge of his own box and sent a long pass forwards for Aguero and Monreal to chase. The Argentina striker was first to the ball and after a heavy touch knocked it clear of the covering Arsenal defender, Aguero dinked his finish over the on-rushing Petr Cech.
The lead lasted just nine minutes though. Sanchez was given acres of space on the right flank to set himself for a deep cross, which Monreal met with a precise low first-time volley in front of the Arsenal fans.
With 11 minutes left on the clock Toure looked to have won it for City with a hooked volley from the edge of the box, but Cech got fingertips to the ball, deflecting it onto his right-hand post.
Three minutes later City hit the woodwork again, this time Fernandinho rose highest in the box to meet De Bruyne’s corner and the midfielder’s powerful header from six yards cannoned back off the crossbar.
In a pulsating finish to the 90 minutes, Arsenal substitute Danny Welbeck bundled his way past Nicolas Otamendi and into the penalty area, his right-footed finish though curled inches off target.
Arsenal’s previous two FA Cup semi-finals had been decided after extra time and they should have taken the lead moments into the first additional period, but defender Rob Holding, free at the near post, headed Mesut Ozil’s corner inches over the crossbar.
Arsene Wenger’s team were certainly looking the stronger and they edged ahead when Ozil’s cross was headed back across goal by Laurent Koscielny and fell to Sanchez, who kept his cool to slot in from close range.
FA Cup history was made at half-time in extra time, when Kelechi Iheanacho became the fourth substitute used by City in the match – Pep Guardiola taking advantage of a new rule that came into effect this season.
City broke forwards with nine minutes remaining through De Bruyne who played in Fabian Delph to his left, the midfielder’s low effort was blocked by Cech as Arsenal held on for victory.
Arsenal: 33 Petr Cech; 5 Gabriel, 6 Laurent Koscielny (capt), 16 Rob Holding; 15 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 8 Aaron Ramsey, 29 Granit Xhaka, 18 Nacho Monreal; 7 Alexis Sanchez, 11 Mesut Ozil; 12 Olivier Giroud
Substitutes: 23 Danny Welbeck for Giroud 82, 24 Hector Bellerin for Oxlade-Chamberlain 105, 34 Francis Coquelin for Ozil 118
Substitutes not used: 26 Emiliano Martinez, 3 Kieran Gibbs, 14 Theo Walcott, 17 Alex Iwobi
Manager: Arsene Wenger
Goals: Monreal 71, Sanchez 101
Yellow cards: Sanchez 25, Xhaka 29
Manchester City: 1 Claudio Bravo; 15 Jesus Navas, 4 Vincent Kompany (capt), 30 Nicolas Otamendi, 22 Gael Clichy; 25 Fernandinho, 42 Yaya Toure; 21 David Silva, 17 Kevin De Bruyne, 19 Leroy Sane; 10 Sergio Aguero
Substitutes: 7 Raheem Sterling for Silva 23, 6 Fernando for Fernandinho 99, 18 Fabian Delph for Aguero 99, 72 Kelechi Iheanacho for Sterling 106
Substitutes not used: 13 Willy Caballero, 5 Pablo Zabaleta, 11 Aleksandar Kolarov
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Goals: Aguero 62
Yellow cards: Fernandinho 69, De Bruyne 89, Toure 102, Delph 105, Otamendi 115
Referee: Craig Pawson