The FA Cup

Reading 1-2 Arsenal

By Nabil HassanBBC Sport at Wembley
  • Sanchez puts Arsenal ahead in first half
  • McCleary equaliser takes game to extra-time
  • Goalkeeper Federici spills Sanchez shot for winner
  • Arsenal to play Aston Villa or Liverpool in Wembley final

Holders Arsenal reached a record 19th FA Cup final after two goals from Alexis Sanchez sealed victory over Reading in extra-time.

Sanchez gave the Premier League side a 39th-minute lead from close range before Garath McCleary volleyed home an equaliser shortly after the break.

Reading needed the post and keeper Adam Federici to keep the scores level as the game required an extra 30 minutes to decide the outcome.

The Australian keeper was at fault as Sanchez's effort spilled through his grasp and rolled in and although Reading pushed for an equaliser Arsenal held on.

The Gunners will now face the winners of Sunday's other semi-final between Aston Villa and Liverpool (15:00 BST kick-off) as they look to lift a record 12th FA Cup.

Their hopes of the double continue to look unrealistic though, with Chelsea recording a potentially defining 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the Premier League.

Sanchez has 22 goals this season since his summer arrival from Barcelona and, with 36 places separating these two sides, he was the difference at a sunny Wembley.

The first half went to form with Arsenal dominating their Championship opposition and enjoying 74% possession.

Per Mertesacker had seen his early header from Mesut Ozil's corner well saved by Federici, low to his left, and at the other end Jordan Obita's fierce half-volley from 25 yards was straight at Wojciech Szczesny.

Reading forward Jamie Mackie was unlucky to have been ruled offside when clean through before Arsenal scored the opener.

Ozil unlocked the Royals' defence with a wonderful pass to Sanchez, who, after controlling and turning inside, prodded past Federici from close range.

Reading levelled nine minutes after the break with McCleary volleying home Pavel Pogrebnyak's cross from six yards. Although Szczesny got to the ball, goal-line technology confirmed it had crossed the line

Federici, who would later leave the pitch in tears, produced a wonderful one-handed save to claw out Gabriel's header as Arsenal looked to get themselves back in front against a Reading side who were growing in confidence.

Szczesny nearly made a mess of Nathaniel Chalobah's shot from distance, palming it away to safety, while Aaron Ramsey missed a glorious chance to put the Gunners ahead by striking the post from within the six-yard box with only a man on the line to beat.

Pogrebnyak wasted good territory when Reading found themselves two-on-one as the game became increasingly stretched but neither side could find a winner as it headed into extra time.

Ramsey's low shot from 25 yards was saved by Federici, who was lucky to see it rebound off him and over the bar. However, the Australian was at fault just before the end of the first period of extra time.

Sanchez's shot took a slight deflection and the keeper fumbled the ball through his legs as it crossed the line.

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud hit the post with eight minutes remaining and although Reading pumped several balls into the Gunners' box, they never looked like finding an equaliser as their first FA Cup semi-final since 1927 ended in heartbreak.

Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez has now scored 22 goals in all competitions for Arsenal this season
Garath McCleary
Garath McCleary's only other Reading goal this season came in the 3-0 quarter-final replay win v Bradford
Reading had not won in their previous five Championship games before this FA Cup semi-final
Reading, 19th in the Championship, were playing a Premier League team for the first time in their FA Cup run
Reading were playing in the semi-final of the FA Cup for only the second time in their history
Adam Federici
Goalkeeper Adam Federici was making his 232nd appearance for Reading



Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Federici
  • 2Gunter
  • 15Hector
  • 5Pearce
  • 11Obita
  • 12McCleary
  • 23Williams
  • 14ChalobahBooked at 45minsSubstituted forCoxat 105'minutes
  • 9Robson-KanuSubstituted forKaracanat 90'minutes
  • 19Mackie
  • 7PogrebnyakSubstituted forAiyegbeniat 111'minutes


  • 3Kelly
  • 6Norwood
  • 10Cox
  • 20Aiyegbeni
  • 21Karacan
  • 31Andersen
  • 35Cooper


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Szczesny
  • 2Debuchy
  • 4MertesackerSubstituted forGabrielat 63'minutesBooked at 108mins
  • 6Koscielny
  • 3Gibbs
  • 34CoquelinSubstituted forWalcottat 101'minutes
  • 19Cazorla
  • 16Ramsey
  • 11Özil
  • 17Sánchez
  • 23WelbeckSubstituted forGiroudat 72'minutes


  • 5Gabriel
  • 10Wilshere
  • 12Giroud
  • 13Ospina
  • 14Walcott
  • 18Monreal
  • 20Flamini
Martin Atkinson

Match Stats

Home TeamReadingAway TeamArsenal
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Reading 1, Arsenal 2.

  2. Post update

    Second Half Extra Time ends, Reading 1, Arsenal 2.

  3. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  4. Post update

    Theo Walcott (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Daniel Williams (Reading).

  6. Post update

    Offside, Reading. Jem Karacan tries a through ball, but Jamie Mackie is caught offside.

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Daniel Williams (Reading) right footed shot from long range on the left is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Simon Cox.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal).

  9. Post update

    Chris Gunter (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) hits the left post with a left footed shot from the left side of the box. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Reading. Yakubu replaces Pavel Pogrebnyak.

  12. Booking

    Gabriel Paulista (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Gabriel Paulista (Arsenal).

  14. Post update

    Daniel Williams (Reading) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Mesut Özil (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Jamie Mackie (Reading) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Simon Cox.

  17. Post update

    Second Half Extra Time begins Reading 1, Arsenal 2.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Reading. Simon Cox replaces Nathaniel Chalobah.

  19. Post update

    First Half Extra Time ends, Reading 1, Arsenal 2.

  20. Goal!

    Goal! Reading 1, Arsenal 2. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Saturday 18th April 2015

Top Stories