Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City: Alexis Sanchez sends Gunners to FA Cup final in extra-time
By Oliver Yew at Wembley
Last Updated: 24/04/17 8:41am
Alexis Sanchez’s extra-time strike booked Arsenal’s place in a record 20th FA Cup final as the Gunners beat Manchester City 2-1 in a pulsating semi-final at Wembley.
Arsene Wenger's side, who reached their third FA Cup final in four years, will bid to win a 13th FA Cup when they take on Chelsea in next month's showdown after Sanchez turned in Mesut Ozil's free-kick at the far post (101).
In a frenetic match - both sides had goals ruled out in the first-half - Pep Guardiola's side took the lead in the 62nd minute but Arsenal forced extra-time through an unlikely source in Nacho Monreal (71).
Sanchez, whose future at the Emirates Stadium has been under constant scrutiny, was the hero for the Gunners, scoring his sixth goal in five matches at Wembley to set up a London derby against Antonio Conte's Chelsea on Saturday May 27.
Wenger, whose own future remains in the spotlight after a difficult season, will now aim to finish the season on a high by winning a 10th major honour and a seventh FA Cup as Arsenal boss.
For Pep Guardiola, it will be a first season without a trophy as a manager as he switches his attention to leading City to a top-four finish in the Premier League, starting with the Manchester derby, live on Sky Sports on Thursday.
Both Arsenal and Man City were unchanged from their respective Premier League wins over Middlesbrough and Southampton with Wenger sticking with an unfamiliar 3-4-2-1 formation that proved successful at the Riverside.
It was City, who again started with Vincent Kompany at the heart of their defence, that started the brighter of the two sides and there was an early chance for Kevin De Bruyne but he fired wide from outside the penalty area.
Guardiola's side were piling the pressure on the Gunners in the early exchanges, but it was Wenger's men who could have taken an early lead.
Sanchez, Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were all involved before the England man beat Leroy Sane and planted a cross on Olivier Giroud's head, but the Frenchman's effort was straight at Claudio Bravo.
City were dominating the ball but Arsenal looked lively on the counter-attack and they had the ball in the net through Laurent Koscielny, but the Frenchman was correctly flagged offside after latching onto Giroud's header.
Guardiola was forced into an early change in the 23rd minute with David Silva replaced by Raheem Sterling because of a possible hamstring injury, but it did not stop City's dominance.
Sergio Aguero went down in the box after a coming together with Oxlade-Chamberlain, but referee Craig Pawson waved away the City appeals. The Argentinian striker, who received treatment after an unintentional clash with Koscielny, was back in the thick of the action again in the 38th minute, hitting the side netting after being played in by Sterling.
The half came to a close with another disallowed goal and another waved away penalty appeal. This time City had the ball in the back of the net through Sterling, but the linesman's flag was up for a goal kick after he ruled Sane's cross to have gone out in what was an extremely tight call, while Pawson turned down the Arsenal appeals after Sanchez was tugged down in the penalty area by Jesus Navas.
The end-to-end nature of the game continued in the second-half with City creating the first opening. Nicolas Otamendi met De Bruyne's corner but the defender headed well wide under not much pressure.
It was Arsenal's turn to dominate the ball and they were enjoying their best spell of the match when the deadlock was broken by a simple counter-attack in the 62nd minute.
City cleared their lines from an Arsenal corner and in the blink of an eye Aguero, who was one-on-one with Monreal, was in on goal after a simple ball over the top and he produced an expert finish to dink the ball over Petr Cech to give City the lead.
Arsenal looked to respond immediately through Ozil, who turned and found an inch of space in the penalty area before firing a shot wide of the far post.
They weren't behind much longer though and it was the impressive Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was a constant threat to City, and he picked out the perfect cross for Monreal to finish at the far post.
The blistering pace was starting to tell for a few of the players as the game opened up and Yaya Toure thought he was the match winner in the 78th minute, but Cech did brilliantly to tip his superb volley onto the post.
Arsenal rode their luck again in the 81st minute when Fernandinho's header thumped back off the bar but they could have won it themselves in the closing stages when the fresh legs of substitute Danny Welbeck skipped past Otamendi. The former Manchester United striker could only send his curling effort wide of the far post though.
Extra-time was needed and Arsenal nearly took the lead when Rob Holding met Ozil's corner at the near post, but the defender's effort flew inches over the bar.
Wenger's side did eventually take the lead in the 102nd minute and it was a set piece that did the damage. Ozil's free-kick found its way to Sanchez at the far post and the Chile international swept the ball home to spark wild Arsenal celebrations.
Fabian Delph, De Bruyne and Toure all failed to hit the target late on as City pushed for an equaliser that would take the game to penalties, but it was Wenger punching the air as the Gunners held on to book a return trip to Wembley.