Sheffield United 1-2 Arsenal: Ceballos scores winner in stoppage time

Sheffield United 1-2 Arsenal: Dani Ceballos scores winner in stoppage time just minutes after David McGoldrick equalises for hosts in frantic finish to FA Cup quarter-final clash at Bramall Lane

  • Arsenal made it back-to-back victories as they sealed their spot at Wembley for the FA Cup semi-finals 
  • Dani Ceballos scored his second goal of the season to win the game in stoppage time from close range 
  • David McGoldrick thought he had forced extra time when he volleyed home with two minutes remaining 
  • Nicolas Pepe gave Arsenal the lead from the penalty spot after Alexandre Lacazette was fouled in the area 
  • Sheffield United remain winless since football returned and will be disappointed to miss a Wembley trip 
  • Manchester United and Arsenal are the first teams to have sealed their places in the competition final four

Even during difficult times the FA Cup has been good to Arsenal. They have won the competition four times since they last won the Premier League.

Certainly the Cup kept Arsene Wenger ticking over on a couple of occasions and now it may be Mikel Arteta’s turn after this dramatic late win in Yorkshire.

Arteta was off up the touchline with fists pumping when late substitute Dani Ceballos drove the winning goal low under Dean Henderson in the 92nd minute. Only 90 seconds earlier his own goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez had prevented Sheffield United winning it, blocking Billy Sharp’s shot at glory with his legs at the near post. 

Dani Ceballos was the hero for Arsenal on Sunday afternoon as his stoppage time winner fired them to an FA Cup semi-final

Winger Nicolas Pepe (right) got the opener having stepped up in what was an impressive first half from the visiting side

The club’s record signing assumed responsibility from the penalty spot and managed to pick out the bottom right corner

It was that type of afternoon. It usually is when Arsenal play. Arteta’s team – featuring a back three and once again no midfielder Matteo Guendouzi – began uncertainly and Chris Wilder’s home team thought they were ahead within ten minutes only for scorer John Lundstram to be called offside by VAR. It was the right decision.

Arsenal did improve and once they led through a Pepe penalty midway through the first half they were able to play some better and more productive football.

It was not to last, though. United were a much livelier side in the second half and finally scored the goal they deserved – their first of Project Restart – with three minutes of normal time remaining. A throw-in from the right caused consternation in the Arsenal box and when the ball dropped to David McGoldrick he was able to score at the far post.  

David McGoldrick thought he had sent the game to extra time when he volleyed in an equaliser at 1-1 in the 88th minute

McGoldrick was mobbed by team-mates but Arsenal responded and soon regained the upper hand to seal the semi-final spot

Mikel Arteta cut an animated figure during the first drinks break as he looked to address his tactics as the game played out

David Luiz (middle) has been reinstated back in the team after serving a suspension following his red card at Manchester City

You would have backed Wilder’s team at that point. Arsenal looked shaken. But Martinez’s save proved important and Arsenal’s break to win it up the other end an example of the clinical football of which Arteta’s team remain maddeningly capable.

Certainly were sketchy early on and were fortunate that a couple of things went their way. With their back three under early pressure, Sheffield United had the ball in the net in only the ninth minute.

Nice interplay down the left saw McGoldrick feed Jack Robinson and when the defender, breaking in to the box from deep, released his shot it was deflected for a corner by Granit Xhaka.

The home team sensed opportunity on a blustery day and were soon celebrating. A simple deep corner swung to the far post allowed Oli McBurnie to head the ball towards goal and Lundstrum bundled it on from almost on the line.

United celebrated but it turned out Lundstrum was too close to the goal line as the VAR officials declared him to be offside. It was the correct decision but one that left us wondering if Lundstrum had even needed to get involved. It could have been that the ball would have gone in anyway. 

Sheffield United believed they had opened the scoring inside the first 10 minutes when John Lundstram squeezed the ball in

But a review by the Video Assistant Referee found that Lundstram was in an offside position when Oli McBurnie headed on

Lundstram put up a strong appeal but the VAR review was decisive and the correct decision was made to keep it level at 0-0

Chris Wilder’s side started in the ascendancy but the momentum appeared to change following Lundstram’s disallowed goal

Lundstram was then forced off with a shoulder injury and suddenly the hosts’ early momentum had long since evaporated

With Arsenal reprieved, improvement did come but it took a while. There was another worrying moment for them four minutes later when a long throw hurled in by Robinson was not dealt with. Everybody seemed to miss the ball as it arrived flat to the near post and McGoldrick may have turned it in as he waited at the rear only for him to misjudge the flight of a ball arriving at some speed.

So with quarter of an hour gone, Arsenal were not in the game. In flashes they looked dangerous and this was particularly so when Pepe and young Joe Willock combined down the right side. When Arsenal managed to turn the Sheffield United defence round to face their own goal, Wilder’s team did not look anywhere near as comfortable.

A Pepe-Willock combination won Arsenal a corner in the 21st minute and although that didn’t come to anything, it signalled a couple of minutes of possession and pressure that led to the penalty.

It was a daft foul by Chris Basham on Alexandre Lacazette really. The Arsenal forward was not in a threatening position as he went to receive the ball just inside the area but Basham could not resist the temptation to nibble at him and referee Paul Tierney was right to award the penalty. Pepe took it and scored left-footed across Dean Henderson to the goalkeeper’s left.

It was a boost for the visiting team as they had not been that impressive up until that point. From that moment on they dominated the rest of the half. 

Chris Basham was then left with his head in his hands after he brought down Alexandre Lacazette to concede the penalty

Basham had both arms around Lacazette and the French striker was hauled down as Paul Tierney chose to award a penalty

Dean Henderson dived the right way but hesitated and Pepe confidently found the bottom corner to give Arsenal the lead

Kieran Tierney looked to double their lead on the stroke of half-time after attempting a volley on the edge of the penalty area

Henderson denied Pepe almost immediately with a plunging save to his left after Lacazette had supplied his team-mate in the penalty area then, a while later, Arsenal left wing-back Kieran Tierney advanced to volley wide from the edge of the area.

United were treading water a little at this moment. They had lost their early impetus. Rather, they had seen it stolen from them. Briefly the game grew physical and John Fleck was booked for a crude tackle of Lacazette that for a second threatened to provoke a reaction.

What the home team needed more than that, however, was some time in the opposition half. Captain Ollie Norwood did make Martinez in the Arsenal goal work with a side foot shot from 25 yards as half-time neared but still Arsenal were able to break almost immediately and fashion another chance of their own.

This was probably the move of the opening half and Arsenal flowed upfield. Tierney was quickly found in space on the left and his pull-back was intelligent and perfect for Pepe to run on to and shoot. The contact was good but the ball flashed wide of the near post.

Wilder knew his team had to improve quickly and they did. There was more energy and a better tempo about their play early in the second half. Henderson almost embarrassed opposite number Martinez with a huge clearance that landed and bounced over the Arsenal crossbar. The home players actually claimed that Martinez had helped the ball over but a goal kick was given.

A free-kick from the right was then bundled in at the near post by Egan only for McGoldrick to be called offside. Not much seemed to be going United’s way, an impression that hardened just after the hour when Basham headed wide at the far post from a Robinson cross when really he should have scored.

With half an hour left there was a competitive edge to the game at least. Wilder had managed to find a way to impose his team’s football on Arsenal again as they sought their first goal in four games since the season started again.

By this time David Luiz had left the field with what looked like a hamstring strain. Whether that was good or bad news for Arsenal depends on your point of view. He was replaced by Rob Holding. 

Henderson resorted to wearing a cap in the second half as the sun picked up and impaired his vision down the pitch

Sander Berge (left) was introduced and he looked to spark some life into the hosts once they found themselves behind

It was another eerie encounter since football’s return as Pepe’s scored penalty was melt with minimal noise at Bramall Lane

Arsenal’s injury woes continued early in the second half when Luiz was forced off and sat in the stand with ice on his leg

MATCH FACTS

SHEFFIELD UTD: Henderson, Basham (Sharp 76), Egan, Robinson, Baldock (K Freeman 62), Lundstram (Berge 35), Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, McGoldrick, McBurnie. 

SUBS NOT USED: Zivkovic, L Freeman, Jagielka, Mousset, Osborn, Moore.

BOOKED: Fleck, Robinson 

GOALS: McGoldrick (87) 

ARSENAL: Martinez, Luiz (Holding 54), Mustafi, Tierney, Maitland-Niles, Willock (Ceballos 67), Xhaka, Kolasinac, Pepe, Lacazette (Nketiah 67), Saka. 

SUBS NOT USED: Bellerin, Sokratis, Aubameyang, Nelson, Macey, Smith.

GOALS: Pepe (25 pen) 

REFEREE: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

Certainly Arsenal’s defending did not look secure as the game wore on. They had been comfortable for a while in the first half not longer. Wilder tried to capitalise on that by sending on Sharp. It seemed the home team were not going to die wondering and just as it looked as though time may run out on them, their second half improvement paid off.

Again a delivery from wide was the problem for Arsenal and when they failed to clear a throw in – an attempted clearance from Sead Kolasinac striking team-mate Holding – with just three minutes left McGoldrick pounced to score from close range at the far post.

A poor goal to concede, Arsenal wobbled as extra time neared. Only the feet of the generally impressive Martinez denied Sharp when he shot low from an angle on the 90th minute.

But then, out of nowhere, Arsenal broke to win it. The danger seemed to have passed when the breaking substitute Eddie Nketiah was tackled. But the 23-year-old loanee Cabellas – another sub – picked up play, took a touch and drove the ball under Henderson and in to the far corner. Not a bad contribution from a player who only this week said he did not know where his future lay at the end of the season.

 

RECAP: Re-live how all the action played out with Sportsmail’s minute-by-minute coverage at Bramall Lane 




Share this article


Source: Read Full Article