Wenger joyful after ‘lucky’ Arsenal reach FA Cup final

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SHOWS: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (APRIL 18, 2015) (ITN – TV: No access all domestic and international channels distributed in UK & Eire on Sky/Virgin/Freeview; BBC/BSKYB GROUP : No access worldwide any

Wenger joyful after ‘lucky’ Arsenal reach FA Cup final

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1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARSENAL MANAGER, ARSENE WENGER, SAYING:

“In the end we were a bit lucky because their keeper made the mistake and I can understand that he’s distraught but he kept them as well in the game for long periods.”

2. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARSENAL MANAGER, ARSENE WENGER, SAYING:

“They wanted it really Reading. They were ready to die on the pitch to go to this final and you have to congratulate them for the effort they put in today.”

3. (SOUNDBITE) READING MANAGER, STEVE CLARKE, SAYING:

“First emotion is disappointment because, I know you guys didn’t believe me and not many people outside our dressing room believed me, I thought we’d win. I really thought we’d win and I think the performance showed why I had that belief. The players were tactically spot on, they played the game I asked them to play, everyone thought we’d come here and shut up shop and camp in and try and defend and defend and defend, 4-5-1 whatever, one striker. We came and we had a go, we had a front two and we had a go and there were certain stages in the game where we were the better team. Which is a big achievement against such a good side as Arsenal.”

STORY: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger conceded luck played a big part in deciding Saturday’s (April 18) FA Cup semi-final after 120 minutes against a Reading outfit fuelled with “ready to die” resilience.

Few predicted the Championship side would put up much of a fight on Wembley’s wide pitch that seemed perfectly-suited to Arsenal’s mesmeric passing game.

Even fewer thought the Premier League team would need a huge favour from the Reading keeper to progress with a 2-1 win that maintained the hopes of retaining their FA Cup crown.

The match, which began as a drab spectacle and ended in a rip-roaring end-to-end contest, deserved better than to be decided by Adam Federici’s devastating error when he let Alexis Sanchez’s tame shot squirm under his body in extra time.

The Australian left the pitch in tears as Arsenal celebrated reaching a record 19th FA Cup final where Liverpool or Aston Villa await.

“In the end we were a bit lucky because their keeper made the mistake and I can understand that he’s distraught but he kept them as well in the game for long periods,” Wenger told reporters after the match.

“They wanted it really Reading. They were ready to die on the pitch to go to this final and you have to congratulate them for the effort they put in today,” he added.

Reading were tenacious and, while they frequently lacked quality in advanced areas, they forced the Premier League aristocrats to slum it in the sort of match more commonly seen in the lower leagues.

Much of the game was ugly with Reading keeping their well-marshalled lines behind the ball with express instructions to snap at the heels of their opponents and prevent them picking a path through the centre of the Wembley surface.

But when Gareth McCleary equalised nine minutes into the second half after Sanchez had given Arsenal the lead with the first of his two goals, there was, for a brief moment, the sense a shock could be on the cards.

Reading’s manager Steve Clarke said he was disappointed to come away with a loss.

“I thought we’d win. I really thought we’d win and I think the performance showed why I had that belief,” he said, adding “We came and we had a go, we had a front two and we had a go and there were certain stages in the game where we were the better team. Which is a big achievement against such a good side as Arsenal.”

Tags : final, reach, Arsenal, Lucky, after, Joyful, Wenger

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