Sanchez steers Arsenal into FA Cup final

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Alexis Sanchez stabs the ball past Petr Cech
  • Post published:April 23, 2017

An extra-time goal by Alexis Sanchez inspired Arsenal to a 2-1 victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, writes DYLAN APPOLIS.

Arsene Wenger decided to name an unchanged Arsenal side to the one that started the victory against Middlesbrough, with Gabriel, Laurent Koscielny and Rob Holding once again featured in a three-man defence.

Meanwhile, City boss Pep Guardiola also named an unchanged side to the one that featured in their last outing, with Vincent Kompany featuring in back-to-back games for the first time since the end of October.

City got off to a bright start and were on the front foot early on, causing the Gunners defence a few problems with Kevin De Bruyne testing Petr Cech from 25 yards out, but his low shot failed to hit the target.

The Gunners had their first chance of the match in the 14th minute after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did well to skip past Leroy Sane before sending a cross right onto the head of Olivier Giroud, but the striker’s header was easily dealt with.

Koscielny thought he put his side ahead in the 22nd minute, but his volleyed effort from a resulting free-kick was ruled offside by the linesman as the scoreline remained goalless.

City caused plenty of problems for the  Arsenal defence in the opening half hour as Koscielny gave away a free-kick with a knee-in Sergio Aguero’s back.

Pep Guardiola’s side had a good chance to take the lead when Raheem Sterling beat his marker before poking the ball over to Aguero, who unleashed a shot at goal, however the striker’s low effort flew into the side of the net.

With five minutes to play until the half-time break, City had a goal disallowed as Aguero’s  half-volley found the back of the net.

The Citizens started the second-half off much like the first and nearly went ahead after Nicolas Otamendi steered his effort wide of the near post.

City’s persistence paid off in the 62nd minute when Yaya Toure lofted the ball to Aguero, who made his way into the box before lifting his effort over the onrushing Petr Cech to make it 1-0.

Arsenal responded well to going behind as they pushed forward with Mesut Ozil on the attack. The German midfielder beat his marker before firing a curling strike just wide of the far post.

Wenger’s side did eventually level matters in the 70th minute as Oxlade-Chamberlain found himself in a good position, whipping a cross over to the far post finding Nacho Monreal, who rifled a low shot into the back of the net from close range.

Ozil had a chance to hand his side the lead when he darted down the right-hand side of the box. He looked set to go one-on-one with Bravo, but he took one touch too many and was dispossessed before he could shoot.

Fernandinho nearly sealed the win for City two minutes later as his headed effort beat the Arsenal shot-stopper before ricocheting off the woodwork.

Neither side were able to find the winning goal after 90 minutes as the scoreline remained 1-1, forcing the semi-final clash into extra-time.

Arsenal took the lead in the 101st minute when Alexis Sanchez reacted quickest to a ball in the area to fire past Bravo to give his side a 2-1 lead.

Sibstitute, Kelechi  Iheanacho nearly drew City level in the second-half, but the striker sent his downward header well wide of the target.

Guardiola’s side came close again when De Bruyne broke into the box before unleashing a low strike at goal, but it fizzed just past the far post.

Arsenal were able to hold off the pressure from Manchester City until the final whistle to book their place in the finals against London rivals Chelsea.

Image: Arsenal Twitter