LNTUP

Arsenal defeats Manchester City to qualify for the FA Cup final for a record 20th time

Photo: Getty Images
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Alexis Sanchez’s extra-time strike booked Arsenal’s place in a third FA Cup final in four years as the Gunners beat Manchester City 2-1 in a pulsating semi-final at Wembley.

Sergio Aguero had put City ahead with a fine breakaway goal just after the hour having had another strike controversially ruled out — but Nacho Monreal equalised.

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City striker Aguero did score for the 12th time in as many games to put City ahead just after the hour mark, but Nacho Monreal hit back with his first goal in over two years.

Yaya Toure and Fernandinho both hit the woodwork for City as the match moved into extra time, where Sanchez’s strike proved decisive.

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Arsene Wenger is under intense pressure with his Arsenal contract due to expire in June, but he now has the chance to win his seventh FA Cup, which would give him the outright record, following up on his side’s 2014 and 2015 triumphs.

City had won their last eight FA Cup semi-final appearances, but this defeat means that, despite huge expectations upon his arrival, Pep Guardiola is almost certain to finish a managerial campaign without a trophy for the first time in his career.

Guardiola’s focus must immediately switch to ensuring his side can at least salvage a top-four Premier League finish, with a crucial derby against Manchester United coming up on Thursday.

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Arsenal threatened first when Olivier Giroud sent a header straight at Claudio Bravo, before Petr Cech had to work harder at the other end to save David Silva’s aerial effort from Aguero’s cross.

Laurent Koscielny had a goal correctly ruled out for offside after he raced onto Giroud’s flick-on to beat Bravo, while City suffered a major blow when Silva went off injured after a challenge from Gabriel, Raheem Sterling replacing him.

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The influential Oxlade-Chamberlain delivered a cross from the right which found the opposite wing-back Monreal racing in at the back post and he stabbed in a right-footed volley from six yards.

Rob Holding was the first to squander a big chance in the additional period, sending a free header over the bar from six yards, but Arsenal did strike after the clock had ticked over to 100 minutes.

Guardiola threw on Kelechi Iheanacho for the second period and City embarked on a late charge, but the Nigeria international missed the target with a header, with De Bruyne also shooting off target.

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City failed to clear a free-kick into the box and although Welbeck miskicked, Sanchez made no mistake as he pounced from close range.

City went close to an equaliser when Fabian Delph had an effort deflected into the side-netting and Toure also curled a shot wide.

Arsenal will now face their bitter rivals Chelsea on the eve of the FA Cup final. A London Derby at Wembley in a FA Cup final, there’s nothing more that the English football lovers could have asked for.

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