Arsenal 2 Newcastle United 0 (AET)
- Chris Kavanagh
Two Arsenal goals deep into extra time knocked Newcastle United out of the FA Cup and settled a closely-fought Third Round tie at the Emirates Stadium.
The Magpies – quarter-finalists in 2019/20 – restricted the competition’s holders to relatively little during the opening 90 minutes and nearly won it, through the impressive Andy Carroll, with what would have been the last kick of the game. However, it was the Gunners who adapted better to the additional half an hour.
Emile Smith Rowe – who saw a red card overturned by referee Chris Kavanagh during a dramatic end to normal time – opened the scoring with a precise finish, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made sure of the outcome with a tap-in.
Returning to the Magpies’ side for the first time since July, Martin Dúbravka was forced into action twice inside the opening two minutes. The Slovakian ‘keeper got down low to his right to keep out a strike from Reiss Nelson after the Arsenal winger cut in from the left, before producing a rather more routine save to deny Nicholas Pépé.
As the first half progressed, the Magpies enjoyed more in the way of possession than they’ve been used to for much of the season – without necessarily threatening Bernd Leno. Dúbravka had to make another stop after 25 minutes, parrying a fizzing effort from Aubameyang after the Gunners’ talisman latched onto a long ball. A couple of minutes later, Kieran Tierney eased past Emil Krafth on the Magpies’ right before picking out Nelson with a square, but the youngster stalled and a decent chance went begging.
Newcastle found themselves sitting deeper and deeper as the interval approached but, coming out for the second half, they started asking questions of the hosts’ backline for the first time in the game. Carroll was their liveliest asset, nodding wide from Paul Dummett’s cross shortly after the restart before seeing a snapshot from 18 yards deflect into Leno’s arms. The Geordie frontman side-footed off-target from Jeff Hendrick’s cross-come-shot with the linesman’s flag raised, though had the shot gone in, the call would have been overturned and United would have led.
With the game beginning to open up, Arsenal’s Joe Willock squandered a reasonable chance at the other end, only able to muster up a tame header from Pépé’s left-wing cross. Steve Bruce introduced Jacob Murphy and youngster Elliot Anderson – the latter making his first-team debut for Newcastle – as the latter stages approached, while Carroll saw another effort from the edge of the penalty area deflect wide.
The most noteworthy moments of normal time came right at the very end of it, though. United broke following an Arsenal free kick and Murphy squared for Anderson, who just mistimed his first-time strike. Still, the ball bobbled up for Carroll, who forced Leno into a desperate save. As Arsenal looked to clear their lines, Smith Rowe brought down Sean Longstaff and was initially given his marching orders – only for Kavanagh to reverse the decision after consulting his pitch-side monitor.
The Magpies started to come back under pressure as extra time got up and running, however. Dúbravka made a magnificent stop to keep out Granit Xhaka’s fiercely-struck volley, before substitute Matt Ritchie threw his body in the way to block Pépé’s strike.
But momentum looked to be shifting the hosts’ way, and in the 109th minute, they made the breakthrough. A rare mistake from Ciaran Clark allowed the Gunners to play the ball forward, and Alexandre Lacazette flicked the ball on for Smith Rowe, who got in behind the United backline and got the better of Dúbravka via the far post.
Aubameyang confirmed Arsenal’s passage to the Fourth Round eight minutes later, applying the finishing touch to Tierney’s centre after the left back ran onto Xhaka’s defence-splitting pass.