Goals for Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey helped Arsenal secure a record-breaking 13th FA Cup after edging out Premier League champions Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.
Chelsea – who lost midfielder Victor Moses to a red card during the second half – were thrown a lifeline with just under fifteen minutes to play after Diego Costa equalised, but an instant response from the Gunners sunk the Blues attempts to haul themselves ahead.
The result sees Arsenal move ahead of Manchester United in the all-time stakes in the competition, and also ensures the two will meet again in August under the Arch to dispute the FA Community Shield.
Arsenal came racing out of the blocks at the national stadium as Sanchez extended his scoring record at Wembley to make it five goals from as many appearances.
His goal was initially ruled out with Aaron Ramsey clearly stood offside, however referee Anthony Taylor adjudged the Welsh midfielder to have consciously avoided infringing on play, allowing Sanchez to fire his shot into the bottom corner past Thibaut Courtois.
The ball also struck the hand of Sanchez, however with it first hitting his knee it was adjudged to have been accidental, and was not penalised.
Gary Cahill was forced to come to Chelsea’s rescue ten minutes later. A cross-field pass to Sanchez allowed him to set Mesut Ozil through on goal, but a poor touch from the German midfielder took the pace out of his subsequent effort despite angling it past the goalkeeper.
Ramsey also failed to give the Gunners a two-goal advantage before the break, chesting the ball against the post after Danny Welbeck’s header similarly hit the woodwork.
Chelsea made a much bolder start to the second period, the indemnity of Arsenal’s lead largely testament to the defensive prowess of Per Mertesacker and Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina.
Then came the sucker-punch. Victor Moses, who had been given a yellow card for blocking Danny Welbeck’s attempt to break clear on the left-wing, made a clear attempt at diving whilst cutting inside the Arsenal area, and was duly dismissed by referee Taylor to leave the Blues a player short.
Diega Costa gave Chelsea hope after chesting down a lofted pass and volleying in – via the knee of Mertesacker and glove of Ospina – though few would have predicted the response.
A through ball from Sanchez to Olivier Giroud allowed the striker to float a ball in, with Aaron Ramsey moving in to steer his header to the left of Courtois’ outstretched glove and deliver Chelsea’s FA Cup aspirations the killer blow, just 22 seconds after the game had resumed.
Both sides found themselves with chances in the closing stages, with Costa firing an effort at the chest of Ospina and Ozil hitting the post at the other end.
The success eases some pressure on Arsenal’s long-term Manager Arsene Wenger, who will decide his future at the club at a board meeting on Tuesday.
Alexis Sanchez was named as the Man of the Match.