Dani Ceballos’ injury-time strike saw Arsenal squeeze past Sheffield United 2-1 in their FA Cup quarter-final clash at Bramall Lane on Sunday.
Nicolas Pepe’s first-half penalty appeared to have sent the visitors to Wembley – the forward’s eighth goal of the season – only for David McGoldrick to stab home an equaliser with just three minutes left to play.
However, with extra time seemingly beckoning, Ceballos found himself in the right place to finish off an Arsenal counterattack with a neatly taken goal that keeps his side’s season alive as they progressed to the semi-finals of the competition for a record-equalling 30th time.
The Blades, though, have still to win since they returned to action three games ago and must now concentrate on trying to secure a place in Europe next season via their Premier League placing.
How Gunners made it to another FA Cup semi-final
Ninety-eight days after the two teams were originally due to meet in the last eight of the FA Cup, they finally did in a tie of huge significance for both clubs.
Despite not having their usual vociferous home support to drive them on, the Blades still began on the front foot against opponents with David Luiz back after his recent suspension, but with top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang only a substitute.
Chris Wilder and his players thought they had gone ahead after just nine minutes when John Lundstram nodded home Oli McBurnie’s own header back across the six-yard box following a left-wing corner.
However, the Video Assistant Referee was on hand to correctly deem the defender offside and so it was Arsenal who actually went in ahead at half-time thanks to Pepe’s calmly dispatched penalty correctly awarded after Chris Basham caught Alexandre Lacazette in the box.
It was a different Blades team in the second period, though, no doubt driven on by some stern words from their manager, who watched another ‘goal’ by John Egan ruled out for offside after McGoldrick had just gone too early at a free-kick.
The Blades made three changes from Wednesday’s 3-0 loss at Man Utd, with Dean Henderson back in goal, while John Egan and Oli McBurnie also returned.
Arsenal made five changes to the team that won 2-0 at Southampton in the Premier League on Thursday with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, David Luiz, Joe Willock, Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette recalled in place of Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Dani Ceballos, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah. However, Mesut Ozil missed out with a back injury.
The hosts kept pushing, however, and got their rewards when some slapstick Arsenal defending saw Sead Kolasinac’s late clearance hit Rob Holding and fall straight at McGoldrick’s feet, and the forward could not miss.
But if Sheffield United thought they had done enough to force extra time, they were wrong as Arsenal launched one last break up field that ended with Ceballos jinking his way into the area and somehow sliding a low shot past Henderson at his near post for his first goal for the club.
The Blades are back in Premier League action when they face Tottenham at Bramall Lane on Thursday, a match you can see live on Sky Sports.
Arsenal, meanwhile, take on struggling Norwich on Wednesday, with both games kicking off at 6pm.