Lukasz Fabianski made two stops in the penalty shoot-out as Arsenal completed a dramatic 4-2 win over holders Wigan on spot-kicks in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium after a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.
Arsene Wenger's side produced a desperately poor performance in their ongoing quest to end nine years without a trophy.
They needed Per Mertesacker's header eight minutes from time to save them after the German defender was guilty of felling Callum McManaman for the concession of the penalty that allowed Wigan to score the opening goal on 63 minutes.
Jordi Gomez planted an immaculate penalty beyond Fabianski to give Uwe Rosler's Championship side the lead, but they could not replicate that form after extra-time had failed to produce another goal with substitute Gary Caldwell and Jack Collison seeing mediocre efforts from 12 yards repelled by Fabianski.
Arsenal's best moments of the match arguably came in the shoot-out as Mikel Arteta, substitute Kim Kallstrom, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla sealed the deal for a side occupying fifth place in the Premier League. For the record, Jean Beausejour and James McArthur scored Wigan's penalties, but the damage had already been done.
Wenger's side will face the winner of Sunday's other semi-final between Hull City and Sheffield United on May 17. They last won a trophy when they picked up the FA Cup in 2005. For Wigan, there was to be no fairytale end a year after their shock 1-0 win over Manchester City in the final.
60' - PENALTY TO WIGAN: Mertesacker sends McManaman crashing to the ground. Clear-cut penalty. Penalty all day long. What a chance this is for Wigan.
63' - GOMEZ SCORES FOR WIGAN: Gomez plants the penalty to the right of Fabianski. And that is a 1-0 lead. Brilliant penalty. Kept his composure superbly. The keeper guessed right, but was never saving that.
79' - SAGNA HITS POST WITH HEADER: Sagna sees a header come off the post from the corner. Almost the equaliser. Inches away from making it 1-1.
81' - CRAINEY CLEARS OFF HIS LINE: Brilliant stop by Carson to claw out the Gibbs header. Ball was heading over the line, but Crainey is back to make a stunning clearance. Wigan hanging on.
82' - MERTESACKER SCORES THE EQUALISER: Arsenal level at 1-1. Mertesacker forces the Kieran Gibbs volley over the line. Too many bodies in the Wigan box. And they couldn't clear in the end.
110' - OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN HITS THE BAR: Oxlade-Chamberlain drives the shot against the bar from 18 yards. Carson beaten, but ball comes back off bar before Wigan scramble it clear.
CAZORLA NETS WINNING PENALTY AFTER FABIANSKI STOPS: Cazorla slams the penalty down the middle. And that is that. A 4-2 win on penalties for Arsene Wenger's side. They are into the FA Cup final. Fortunate, but they get the job done. Hard luck on Wigan.
Arsenal have now won seven of their last eight penalty shootouts.
Wigan have been victorious in only two of their last seven penalty shootouts.
Olivier Giroud has scored three goals in just 42 minutes of FA Cup action this season.
Since the start of last season, Jordi Gomez has scored six goals and assisted five in the FA Cup.
Arsenal have now gone five games without a clean sheet.
TALKING POINT: Where does this leave Arsene Wenger? This Arsenal squad needs work done to it over the summer. Perhaps that includes a change of manager. Arsenal look jaded, one-paced and can regard themselves extremely fortunate to overcome an array of honest, but limited triers from Wigan. The turning point of the match came when Callam McManaman departed. He had caused the Arsenal central defenders Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker so many problems with his movement. If he wasn't injured, you have to wonder why he wasn't allowed to continue.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Scott Carson (Wigan) - An assured performance from the Wigan goalkeeper. Some outstanding saves from the former England man, who should be regarded as an outside bet for England's World Cup squad on this form. Wembley was good to him seven years after his debacle for the national side against Croatia.
Wigan: Carson 8, Perch 8, Boyce 7, Ramis 7, Crainey 7, McArthur 7, McEachran 6, McManaman 7, Beausejour 7, Gomez 7, Fortune 6...subs: Caldwell 6, Collison 6, Powell 6.
Arsenal: Fabianski 7, Sagna 7, Mertesacker 5, Vermaelen 5, Monreal 5, Arteta 5, Oxlade-Chamberlain 7, Ramsey 6, Cazorla 5, Podolski 5, Sanogo 6...subs: Gibbs 7, Kallstrom 6, Giroud 6.
MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Lukasz Fabianski
- Arsene Wenger
- Jordi Gomez
- Santi Cazorla
- Olivier Giroud
- Callum McManaman