Arsenal beat 10-man Chelsea to claim Wembley victory
Aaron Ramsey scored the winning goal after Diego Costa’s equalizer cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's controversial lead.
Aaron Ramsey scored the winning goal after Diego Costa’s equalizer cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's controversial opener.
The game kicked off after a minute silence was observed in the 90,000-seater Wembley for the victims of the Manchester suicide bombing that claimed the lives of 22 people, including children.
The opening minutes kicked off with Arsenal camping in the Chelsea half, and the pressure soon paid off as Sanchez put the Gunners in an early 3rd-minute lead, although in controversial version.
After blocking a defensive clearout from the Chelsea defence with what looked like a handball, Sanchez ran unrestricted into the Chelsea box past Aaron Ramsey in offside position and coolly slotted the ball past Thibaut Courtois with the outside of his boot.
Arsenal had to survive a few tense seconds as referee Anthony Taylor consulted with his assistant who had judged the ball offside against Ramsey, before allowing the goal to stand, to Arsene Wenger's relief.
This clearly put Chelsea in a tense position as Diego Costa lashed out at Arsenal defender Rob Holding after he was brought down. The resulting free kick was headed wide over the Gunners' goal as the game settled with both teams making advances into each others' halves without much goalmouth action.
Sanchez was the man to take another poke at the Chelsea goal again with a shot that went over the bar before a Costa shot was blocked after a brilliant run at the defence by subdued danger man Eden Hazard.
Arsenal stormed straight back down the other end and a pass behind the Blues defence by Sanchez resulted in a Mesut Ozil flick being brilliantly cleared off the goalline by Gary Cahill just before Danny Welbeck could get to it.
Arsenal didn't let up on the pressure as, minutes later, a Welbeck header hit the base of the post before going out of play off Ramsey.
Chelsea found it incredibly difficult to break down a disciplined Arsenal backline until a ball over the defence resulted in a scuffed shot by Costa that was blocked by David Ospina who was selected over former Chelsea stopper Pete Cech.
Arsenal went on the offensive again shortly after in a move that resulted in Cahill having to clear from the line again, this time from another Welbeck attempt.
Courtois had to get down to push out a Granit Xhaka shot from outside the goal area only minutes later as the Gunners completely laid siege to their London rivals' goal.
Sanchez had another blocked shot off Cahill before Pedro shot waywardly over the bar after a rare chance for the Premier League champions.
He was brought down by a Holding push on the edge of the Arsenal box and Marcos Alonso blazed the resulting free kick over the bar before the half time whistle went off with Arsenal clearly the superior side.
Chelsea started the second half with renewed vigour and a few minutes of sustained pressure in the Arsenal half resulted in a deflected N'Golo Kante shot that was comfortably handled by Ospina.
Costa almost got a clear chance at goal minutes later from a Hazard pass but he was well-shielded by Per Mertesacker.
Holding later brought Costa down close to the edge of the box and the freekick was headed into a corner that quickly broke into an Arsenal counter that ended up in Courtois' safe hands after Bellerin's failed cross down the right.
With Arsenal adopting a more cautious approach, Antonio Conte decided to make a switch in the 60th minute, bringing on former Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas to give his team more options in attack.
The Gunners soon caught the Chelsea defence sleeping in a move that almost resulted in a Hector Bellerin goal just before Fabregas shot wide from outside the box.
As if Chelsea's situation was not hard enough, Taylor had to send wingback Victor Moses off the pitch with a second bookable offence after going down in an apparent dive in the Arsenal box.
Wenger's men almost made the numerical advantage count by going close to doubling their advantage on two ocassions.
Conte responded by bringing in Willian for the underwhelming Pedro to boost their dwindling hopes of staging a comeback.
He was soon rewarded as his team pulled a goal back to draw level in the 76th minute.
After some fine passing in the Arsenal half, Costa chested down a Willian pass in the box before knocking it into the ground past an helpless Ospina.
Wenger responded to the setback by withdrawing Welbeck for Oliver Giroud and the French striker was instrumental in putting his team back into the lead as Chelsea's loss of concentration in defence soon cost them dearly.
The Chelsea backline was caught out as the Ramsey stole into the box unmarked to head a chipped Giroud cross past a dejected Courtois in the 79th minute.
Chelsea quickly picked up to try and level up again, with Brazilian David Luiz heading close to the post from a Willian free kick.
In an attempt to shut out the game, Wenger replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Francis Coquelin who was soon cautioned for time wasting after he kicked the ball away.
Bellerin came agonisingly close to extending the Gunners lead after running past Luiz into the box before shooting wide.
Chelsea soon came close to an equaliser but Costa shot straight at Ospina.
A quick Arsenal break freed Ramsey and left him in a good position facing Courtois, but he shot against the bar.
In a desperate last-ditch attempt, Conte hooked Costa for Michy Batshuayi to try and force an equaliser but the Blues were rebuffed by a resolute Gunners defence.
Despite Chelsea's best efforts, Arsenal held on to claim a momentous victory for their under-fire manager who has now won the trophy for the seventh time, a record for a manager.
Arsenal is the most successful team in the tournament now with this victory taking them one ahead of Manchester United who have won it 12 times.
It's also their third victory in four seasons and will ease some of the pressure from their French manager who fell short of Champions League qualification this season after finishing in fifth position in the Premier League.
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