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By Olisa Chukwuma
Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as the Gunners defeated fellow London rivals Chelsea in what was a game of mixed-moments at a near empty Wembley Stadium.
This year’s FA Cup final, rescheduled and played in August behind close doors – following the global pandemic that halted matches in March – produced a thrilling London derby with a somewhat temperate ending, especially for the Blues.
Christian Pulisic had given Chelsea the lead with only six minutes in and Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe had a goal canceled after Arsenal striker Alexander Lacazette was judged offside by VAR in the buildup.
But Aubameyang leveled for Arsenal in the 28th minute from the penalty spot after he was brought down in the box by Chelsea skipper Cezar Azpilicueta, who himself was replaced by Andreas Christensen after picking up an injury before the halftime break.
Arsenal grabbed the winner in the 67th minute from the Gabonese striker Aubameyang who, on the left, turned-in blues defender Kurt Zouma inside and close to the 6-yard to beat Chelsea’s Willy Caballero in goal with a fine chipped finish.
There was a red card for Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic after the Croatian was sent-off with a second yellow for a soft looking challenge on Granite Xhaka. The tempo of the game then fizzled out from that point with Arsenal looking largely untroubled at the back to close out the win.
The victory also spelt Mikel Arteta’s first trophy in his first season as Arsenal manager, and guarantees the Gunners a place in next seasons Europa League.
“It was a difficult start when we conceded so early,” Arteta said after the game. “If I know something about these players, is that we weren’t going to give up.”
“We played probably the best 30 minutes after since I arrived. I am so proud to represent these players and this club.”
But it was a disappointing end to the game for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard after a bright start, as his team were undone by injuries to players like Pulisic who looked lively before pulling a hamstring early in the second period, Azpilicueta, and the red card to Kovacic.
Lampard, who is also in his first season in charge at Chelsea, said: “We started well for 10-15 minutes and the we can only blame ourselves form that point. We got complacent, we took time on the ball like it was a stroll and we allowed them into the game. It’s had to get back into the game then. A lot today is on us.”
Arsenal’s win at Wembley makes it a record 14th FA Cup title for the North London club. But Chelsea’s season continues as they will now look to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals on 14 August.
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