FA Cup: Arsenal 1 Manchester United 3
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Alexis Sanchez came back to haunt Arsenal and knock his former side out of the FA Cup as Manchester United ran out 3-1 winners at the Emirates Stadium.
With the FA Cup drawing up a cracker of a game on a Friday night under the lights between these two heavyweight giants, both sets of fans were in fine voice as they attempted to spur their side onto the fifth round.
But United dampened the spirit of the Arsenal faithful early on and did the damage in the space of a couple of first half minutes thanks to quickfire goals from Sanchez and Jesse Lingard just after the half-hour mark.
Arsenal however soon found their feet and were rewarded when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tapped home to set up an enthralling second half. But the Gunners’ attempts to salvage a replay ended in vain at the Emirates with Anthony Martial wrapping up proceedings.
It was the visitors who had the first real opening of the match as Paul Pogba got in behind the Arsenal defence only to be denied by the on-rushing Petr Cech inside 12 minutes.
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The Gunners looked threatening too and they were nearly rewarded in the 23rd minute when Alexandre Lacazette cleverly put Alex Iwobi through, only to be denied by Sergio Romero.
But just like that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s revitalised side started to dominate and nearly went ahead within seconds of Iwobi’s effort when Ashley Young’s teasing cross evaded United’s attackers across the six-yard box.
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And it was United who struck the first punch with former Arsenal star Sanchez latching onto a brilliant through ball by Romelu Lukaku before taking it round Cech and slotting home from a tight angle in the 31st minute.
Just like last season at the Emirates, Arsenal failed to respond after going behind to United. Just minutes after the opener, Lingard doubled United’s lead with a coolly placed finish into the corner in the 33rd minute.
The atmosphere started to build again when Aubameyang pulled one back for the Gunners on the stroke of half-time after being on hand to convert Aaron Ramsey’s dangerous cross.
And the hosts started the second half like they ended the first, tormenting the United defence. Ramsey nearly equalised immediately from the restart but his close-range header was smartly saved by Romero.
Out-of-favour Mesut Ozil was brought in with 30 minutes remaining as Arsenal – whose injury crisis has now deepened after centre-backs Sokratis (ankle) and Laurent Koscielny (jaw) were forced off – looked to salvage a replay at Old Trafford but his efforts weren’t enough.
With Arsenal looking for the all-important equaliser, United landed the knockout blow on the counter-attack as substitute Martial converted home into an empty net after Pogba’s long-range shot was saved by Cech.
United find out who they will play in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday night at 7pm. For Unai Emery and his Arsenal side, they now have to push for a top-four Premier League finish.