The weekend’s first FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Reading had everything that the magic of the cup can bring.
For neutral fans across the country it was a fantastic game to watch. Arsenal were taken to extra-time by a Championship club for the second year in a row, having taken Wigan to penalties in last season’s draw.
After a slightly one-sided first half, Reading came back fighting, and Gareth McCleary’s goal could have been one of many for the Championship side.
A mistake by Federici took Arsenal to the final to defend their title but neutral fans everywhere we gutted for Reading who put up a stellar fight.
But what did we learn from Arsenal’s narrow victory at Wembley? Here’s four things to look back on…
Arsene Wenger said before the game that he knew it was going to be hard work, and he was right.
After an amazing 90 minutes, Royals goalkeeper Adam Fedrici made a mistake that will haunt hm for a very long time. The look on his face as he realised what he had done brought the gutting feeling into the homes of every Reading and neutral fan watching the game.
After such a skilful game of football by both sides it seems so cruel that Reading had to go out on a mistake.
Reading looked like a different side in the second half, forcing Arsenal into their own half and Wojciech Szczęsny to make a number of important saves.
The Royals played superbly as a team and the sheer determination was clear to see on all their faces. They had 75% of the possession during the second half and Adam Federici made some fantastic saves, making him the main reason they took Arsenal to extra-time.
Mathieu Debuchy’s first season at Arsenal has been blighted by injury, and the fact that throughout the game his running looked laboured and appeared very tired, suggested he really shouldn’t have started.
Reading tried to utilise this weakness in the Gunner’s defence and made the majority of the attacks down the left. By the time it got to extra-time he was running on empty but Arsene Wenger didn’t have much option but to leave him on the pitch.
Alexis Sanchez was superb for the Gunners at Wembley. Having been shortlisted for the PFA’s Player of the Year, it was clear to see why.
As Reading got tireder towards the end of the match, the Chilean was involved in every attack and didn’t seem to tire at all. He had a 87% pass rate for the game, the highest of anyone on the pitch.