Aaron Ramsey scored a 79th minute winner as Arsenal defied their underdog status to beat Premier League champions Chelsea in a thrilling FA Cup final at Wembley.
It had appeared that the match would head into extra-time when Diego Costa cancelled out Alexis Sanchez’s early strike, however, Ramsey was on hand to net the winner just minutes later and deny Antonio Conte’s men the chance to win a domestic double.
The victory now means that Arsenal have won the FA Cup a record 13 times and have ended a frustrating season on a high, as manager Arsene Wenger answered his critics in emphatic style ahead of this week’s announcement about his future at the club.
With all the pre-match build up raising concern about Arsenal’s depleted defence, it was ironically confusion in the Chelsea back-three that lead to an early goal for Wenger’s men.
Having seemed to have blocked N’Golo Kante’s clearance with his hand, Sanchez got on the end of the bouncing ball and with everyone believing the flag would go up to rule Aaron Ramsey offside, the Chilean took advantage of the indecision to fire past Thibaut Courtois to hand his side the lead in just the fourth minute.
With their tails up, the Gunners went in search of a second and were only denied by Gary Cahill’s goal-line clearance from Mesut Ozil.
Danny Welbeck soon headed against the post from a corner, as an out of sorts Chelsea struggled to match their opponents’ intensity.
It wasn’t until the 27th minute that Conte’s men caused problems of their own when Diego Costa saw his effort bravely saved at point-blank range by the recalled David Ospina.
Minutes later, Cahill was on-hand once again to clear the ball just inches from his goal as the Premier League champions continued to be second best. Their poor showing in the opening 45 minutes was summed up by Marcos Alonso and Pedro’s wayward efforts on goal.
The interval appeared to do Conte’s team good, as they started the second-half on the front foot and were denied by Ospina once again, who saved well from Kante and Victor Moses.
Pedro was the next to go close with a shot that flew just wide, but whilst Chelsea were vastly improved, they remained vulnerable to Arsenal’s pace on the counter and were indebted to Courtois’ fine save from Hector Bellerin.
With the match now stretched, the Blues’ hopes of equalising took a bitter blow in the 68th minute when Moses was shown a second yellow card for simulation and subsequently handed his marching orders by referee Anthony Taylor.
Despite being a man down, Chelsea continued to press and with just 14 minutes left, Costa brought them level as his scuffed shot took a slight deflection and nestled in the bottom left hand corner.
The champions’ joy was short lived however, as it took Wenger’s side just three minutes to regain the lead.
Aaron Ramsey timed his run into the penalty area to perfection and with no one around him he nodded substitute Olivier Giroud’s deft cross past the helpless Courtois to restore his team’s advantage.
2014: Aaron Ramsey scores in the FA Cup final vs. Hull.
2017: Aaron Ramsey scores in the FA Cup final vs. Chelsea.
Big games. Big goals. pic.twitter.com/3YsbJCeslU
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 27, 2017
And it was a lead that the Gunners would hold onto, as Ospina somehow kept another Costa shot out in the final moments with what proved to be the champions last real chance to stay in the contest.
Ozil somehow hit the post from just yards out, but it proved irrelevant, as Arsenal comfortably saw out four minutes of injury time to claim victory and seal a seventh FA Cup for the under fire Arsene Wenger.