Match winner: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice to win his first trophy as Arsenal captain Photo: POOL/AFP
soccer

Aubameyang leads Arsenal to FA Cup triumph

5 Comments
By Kieran CANNING

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inspired Arsenal to a record 14th FA Cup win as the Gunners captain struck twice to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the final at an empty Wembley on Saturday.

Christian Pulisic had given Chelsea the dream start, but the Blues unravelled after Aubameyang was brought down by Cesar Azpilicueta inside the area and converted the resulting penalty.

A brilliant finish from Aubameyang 23 minutes from time earned Mikel Arteta silverware in his first season as Arsenal boss before Chelsea were controversially reduced to 10 men when Mateo Kovacic was shown an extremely soft second yellow card.

Arteta said ahead of the final he hoped a taste of success would encourage Aubameyang, who only has a year left on his contract at the Emirates, to commit to a new long-term deal.

The Gabon international's double took his tally for the season to 29 and ensured the Gunners will not miss out on European soccer next season for the first time since 1995/96 as they qualify for the Europa League.

An FA Cup final unlike any other with nearly 90,000 empty seats saw the traditional singing of "Abide With Me" performed on the Wembley roof.

Chelsea had already achieved their primary goal from Frank Lampard's first season in charge by securing a place in next season's Champions League last weekend and early on they seemed set to cap a top-four finish with Lampard's first trophy as a manager.

Emiliano Martinez flew to his left to turn Mason Mount's shot behind, but Arsenal did not heed that warning as Chelsea's front three combined perfectly for the opener on five minutes.

Mount's low cross was flicked on by former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud and Pulisic continued his scoring streak since soccer's return in June by showing quick feet before prodding the ball home.

Arteta has gained plenty of plaudits for his tactical nous during his first eight months in a managerial role and the Spaniard managed to reorganise the Gunners during the first-half drinks break to change the momentum of the game.

A minute after play resumed, Nicolas Pepe thought he had curled home a brilliant equaliser from the edge of the box, only to be denied by Ainsley Maitland-Niles being flagged for offside in the build-up.

While Chelsea have already significantly strengthened their forward line for next season with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, Arsenal are hoping just to hold onto their key man in Aubameyang.

Just like in the semi-final win over Manchester City, he proved to be the match winner as he raced onto Kieran Tierney's hopeful ball over the top and outpaced Azpilicueta before being brought down by the Chelsea captain just inside the area.

Azpilicueta escaped the double punishment of a red card, but VAR confirmed the spot-kick and Aubameyang coolly slotted home.

Chelsea were further hit by two big injury blows either side of half-time as Azpilicueta and Pulisic pulled up with hamstring injuries that will almost certainly rule them out of the Champions League last 16, second leg against Bayern Munich next weekend.

Despite Chelsea's major spending spree in reinforcing their attack, it is at the back where they have been found wanting all season and they were caught out too easily for the winner.

Hector Bellerin burst through the weak challenge of Jorginho before the ball was played into the path of Aubameyang, who skipped past Kurt Zouma and nonchalantly lifted the finish over Willy Caballero.

Worse was to come for Lampard's men when Kovacic was inexplicably sent off for the slightest touch on Granit Xhaka, but Anthony Taylor's decision could not be reviewed by VAR as it was a second bookable offence.

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


5 Comments
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It was a fairly exciting and even game until the ridiculous second yellow card for Kovacic. A very poor call by the referee that would have been overturned by VAR. Not only did Chelsea lose, but Azpilicueta and Pulisic suffered hamstring injuries and poor Pedro went off on a stretcher receiving oxygen for what looked like a dislocated shoulder. Not the best way to finish his final game for the club.

Aubameyang scored a great penalty and the winning goal was a beauty. Well done to Arteta, he's really made a difference in the few months he's been there.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Well done, Arsenal. Still, an FA Cup Final without the crowds, the colour and the fans going crazy... unimaginable. Not sure I even want to watch the replay.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Decent game apart from what Alfie Noakes already pointed out.

Pleased for Arteta. Good player and a good fella. Hope he proves himself to be a good manager too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Quick thinking Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is top class. Hats off to the difference-maker. Good going for Mikel Arteta. Gunners are in the Europa League thus creating two doors for a slot in the Champions League. Congratulations to Arsenal footballers and fans. Wishing Pedro a speedy recovery.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So it all turned out well for us in the end. Pulisic's hamstring was the pivotal point. he might have scored that 2nd goal if his hamstring hadn't popped. And he was man of the match up until that point. Arsenal had already turned the second half around when Kovacic was sent off. And to be fair to the ref he doesn't have the benefit of tv replays or VAR for a yellow. If you watch it in real time it looks like he left his foot in.

Azpilicueta's hamstring was actually a blessing for Chelsea because at that point he was being absolutely roasted by Aubameyang and Maitland-Niles. Aubameyang might be the best striker in Europe at this point.

I don't see Mourinho and Spurs dancing around in celebration anymore..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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