To start at the end, so to speak, Reading pushed Arsenal all the way to the end of a classic FA Cup Semi-Final, in a game that featured two goal-keeping horrors.
The first half was notable for a slow paced, listless performance by Arsenal against an energetic hepped-up Reading who made up for their lack of technique with hard work and an energetic bending of the now acceptable ‘in their faces’ style.
In the 39th minute of what was becoming a frustrating game for Arsenal, and an exciting ‘anything is possible’ effort by Reading, the supreme artist Özil spotted the wonderfully athletic Sanchez loitering in a packed penalty area, and placed a pin point pass, which required a chest down, a spin to flummox the CBs, and finished with a deft shot by our Chilean into the bottom of the Reading goal.
Despite a lax and sometimes lazy half, both Mesut and Sanchez showed their class within a rather indifferent team performance.
Right from the start of the second half Reading showed they were not going to leave Wembley without giving the game their all, and Pogrebnyak and Mackie gave all Gooners cause for concern, before making us realise there was a genuine reason to worry, when the Ruskie crossed and the ball 2which, not for the first time drifted over the head of the misfiring Gibbs to the loitering McLeary who mishit the ball off Gibbs and into the net via a startled Chezzer who got his paws to the ball but was undone by its pace, and watched in horror as it crossed the line. Bugger.
Reading moved up a gear and Arsenal withdrew into a monotonous game of tennis-football, with the ball moved slowly between the axis of Mert, Kozzer and the Keeper before being kicked back to Reading to have another go. Dreadful stuff!
The love of many for Cup football was exemplified by the end to end play that ensued, albeit with little real effect.
Into Extra-Time and Rambo should have finished the game but managed to hit the post, and the referee ignored the pulling and over-robust defending of the Reading defense which could have resulted in a penalty.
Then our Chilean whizz-kid popped up to score via a deflected shot that squirmed off Federici’s inside thigh and slowly trickled across the line.
Tough on Reading and particularly their keeper — and gasps of relief from the Arsenal faithful.
Wembley here we come — AGAIN. :-)
Written by RedArse