Cup holders Arsenal topple Reading
Written By: Robert Halter
F.A. Cup holders Arsenal had a Royals appointment at Wembley in the first of the semi finals mid April. On seven minutes, Adam Federici saved the Royals, by blocking out a downward header from Gunners captain, Per Mertesacker, off a corner taken by Mesut Ozil. But Reading responded a minute later, as Wojciech Szczesny had to clutch hold from a low strike by Jordan Obita, after a cross had been sent over from the right by Garath McCleary. On seventeen minutes, after a body check by Nathaniel Chalobah on Danny Welbeck, from the resulting free kick, Ozil bent the ball narrowly over the upright. On twenty six minutes, Federici made a sliding save to put off Alexis Sanchez from scoring, after the Royals defence had been exposed by a through ball from Santi Cazorla. Finally the deadlock was broken on thirty eight minutes, after the ball was floated over the top by Ozil, and it was left to Sanchez, who turned past McCleary and weaved away from a lunge by Michael Hector, before tucking the ball past Federici, into the centre of the net. Three minutes into the re-start, after a foul by Hector on Sanchez, the free kick was put across from Cazorla, but the header by Mertesacker was turned wide. On fifty two minutes, the Royals broke down the left with Daniel Williams, but from long range, Hal Robson-Kanu, floated the ball over the crossbar. But a minute later, the Royals were back on level terms, as Pavel Pogrebnyak cut the ball back from the left by line, and McCleary’s strike deflected off Kieran Gibbs, as his effort was scrambled into the goal, after miss handling from Szczesny, as he could not keep the ball out from crossing over the line. The Gunners made an enforced change by replacing Mertesacker with Gabriel Paulista. Reading were enjoying their best spell of the game and as Jamie Mackie drew the ball across to Daniel Williams, he was unable to find the right connection to make use of the opportunity on sixty six minutes. But Arsenal upped the ante and from an Ozil corner, Federici tipped a bullet header by Paulista, onto the crossbar, two minutes later. The Gunners made a second substitution by taking off Welbeck as Olivier Giroud appeared. On seventy two minutes, after Obita appended Aaron Ramsey, a free kick was whipped over by Ozil, but Paulista’s header flew over the top. Five minutes later, after a foul by Paulista on Williams was not given, Pogrebnyak pulled the ball over from the left side to miss the target. Arsenal then broke again, when Sanchez put the ball on a plate for Ozil, but his missile went high and wide. But on eight two minutes, the Royals were back in offense as Obita’s ball across was left to Nathaniel Chalobah, whose low strike was put behind by Szczesny. Although the Gunners went close two minutes later, as Ozil found Ramsey in space, and after his first shot was saved by Federici, from the rebound, Ramsey sent a shot crashing against the left post. Near the end of normal time, the Royals brought on Jem Karacan for Robson-Kanu. Two minutes into extra time, from a lay back by Sanchez, the ball was ballooned over from Cazorla. The Gunners made a final switch of Francis Coquelin with Theo Walcott. With two minutes of the first period remaining, after a touch by Ozil, the ball was rammed in by Ramsey, and it took the full brunt of Federici’s body to flip the strike over. But the Royals hearts were broken, as Ozil supplied Sanchez and his tame effort was fumbled into the net by Federici as the ball squeezed in between his legs. Before the re-start, Reading replaced Chalobah with Simon Cox. The Royals looked for a quick response with a burst of pace by Mackie, who let fly with an effort. But after Sanchez won the ball back, Ozil brushed a strike across the face of goal, two minutes into the second period. The Royals made a last change with Yakubu for Pogrebnyak. The Gunners were then denied by the left post again, after Ramsey and Ozil combined before Giroud’s low strike hit the woodwork but it was Arsenal back in the final again.