2014 FA Cup winners Arsenal reached a record 19th FA Cup Final, as a brace from Alexis Sánchez helped overcome a plucky Reading after extra-time at Wembley. The Chilean forward, who has been Arsenal’s talisman this season, added two more goals to take his tally to 22 since his summer arrival from Barcelona.
The Gunners dominated their Championship opponents in the first half; German inspirational playmaker Mesut Ozil cracked the Royals’ defence in the 39th minute with an exquisite, clipped pass to the former Los Cules man, who sent the ball through Adam Federici’s legs from 6 yards.
Reading got themselves back into the game nine minutes after the break, as Garath McCleary volleyed an equaliser in for the Royals, from Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak’s cross, squeezed from a close, tight angle. Although Arsenal’s keeper Wojciech Szczesny got hands on the ball, he was not able to prevent it from crossing the line.
Thereafter, Reading had the post and keeper Federici to thank for keeping the scores level, as the game headed into an extra 30 minutes.
The Royals’ keeper produced some world class one-handed saves; he saved former Villa Real defender Gabriel’s header, as well as Welsh midfielder Ramsey’s low shot from 25 yards out. However, unlucky Federici made a gaffe in the 106th minute, just before the first period of extra time, as Sánchez’s tamed effort took a slight deflection, spilled through the keeper’s hands and legs, and trickled over the line to the delirium of the Gunners fans, although Reading pushed Arsenal for another equaliser right till the end, refusing to accept defeat.
With the eight minutes remaining, Arsenal’s in-form striker Olivier Giroud hit the post and, despite Reading sending long balls into the opponent’s box, the Gunners did not buckle under pressure; they will now face the winners of Sunday’s semi-final between Aston Villa and Liverpool, as they look to lift the FA Cup for a record 12th time. As for Reading, this was their first FA semi-final since 1927, which ended in tears for their goalkeeper. #Football