Aubameyang strikes twice as Arsenal come from behind to win the FA Cup 2-1 against luckless Chelsea
Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1
Gabon hitman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace as the Gooners came from behind to win the FA Cup 2-1 against west London rivals Chelsea at Wembley Stadium this evening. It was the 14th triumph for the north Londoners.
Chelsea were poor for most of the game and had a man sent off - Mateo Kovacic, while Arsenal were average at best.
The Blues were forced to make two substitutions as skipper Cesar Azpilicueta and Christian Pulisic hobbled off clutching their hamstrings and that upset the balance of their play.
But when Kovacic was handed his second yellow card by referee Anthony Taylor, the writing as on the wall for the boys from SW6.
The Blues took the lead early through Pulisic, before Aubameyang slotted home a penalty after Azpilicueta upended the striker in the penalty area.
The Blues were then the victim of a sucker punch counter-attack which saw Aubameyang chip Willy Caballero from close range.
Arsenal had a great chance to open the scoring after two minutes but Aubameyang’s glancing header from close range went wide of Willy Cabellaro’s right post.
Mason Mount zipped up the other end within a minute and let fly with a smart, cushioned right-footer but Martinez was equal to the task.
But within six minutes, the Blues took the lead with an excellent set-up play that saw Captain America Christian Pulisic start the move. The ball was fed wide to Mount on the left. He cut the ball across the six-yard box and expertly touched the ball to in-running Pulisic, who tucked home with consummate ease.
Arsenal thought they had equalised on 25 minutes when a wonderful shot by Pepe crashed into Caballero net, but Aubameyang was adjudged offside.
Azpilicueta’s name was added to Anthony Taylor’s book when he upended Aubameyang just inside the Chelsea’s area and conceded a penalty as a result a minute later.
Up stepped the striker who sent the Argentina stopper the wrong way to equalise.
Azpilicueta’s cup final ended on 33 minutes when the Spain full-back pulled up with a suspected hamstring injury. He left the pitch in tears. Andreas Christensen replaced him.
The north Londoners took control of the game - leaving the Blues stuck in their own third of the pitch right up to half-time.
Mount was unlucky to get a yellow for a non-foul on Ceballos.
There was no changes by either side during the break
Pulisic raced clear seconds after the whistle, but pulled a hamstring at the same time, sending the ball wide but also meaning he had to exit the field helped by two physios.
Pedro was called from the bench to take his place.
But while Chelsea took control of possession, they went behind to a fine deft clip by Aubameyang who left Kurt Zouma for dead and dropped the ball over Caballero on 68 minutes.
It was a class finish by the striker against the run of play, But it was Hector Bellerin’s powerful break through the middle of the pitch which turned the Chelsea rearguard and they became exposed to an overload of attacking Arsenal players from which Aubameyang took full advantage.
The game got even worse for the Blues when Kovacic was handed his second yellow card for a foul leaving the Blues with 10 men.
It was the same referee who sent off Victor Moses in the FA Cup Final of 2017.
Toni Rudiger was next into the ref’s book with 15 minutes left.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard opted for a three-man substitution, Tammy Abraham for Giroud, Callum Hudson-Odoi for Rudiger and Ross Barkley for Mount.
But none justified the decision and Arsenal saw out the game.
Chelsea face Bayern Munich next weekend in the Champions league. They are already 3-0 from the first leg at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea, Caballero, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso, Mount, Giroud, Pulisic
Subs: Kepa, Christensen, Kante, Barkley, Abraham, Pedro, Hudson-Odoi, Tomori, Emerson
Arsenal: Martinez, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Subs: Papastathopoulos, Torreira, Nelson, Willock, Nketiah, Kolasinac, Macey Smith, Saka
Referee: Anthony Taylor