Emile Smith Rowe was the hero for Arsenal as they beat Newcastle United 2-0 after extra time to reach the FA Cup fourth round. ( More Football News)
The holders were poor for much of normal time, which looked to be coming to an end with Smith Rowe sent off for a foul on Sean Longstaff.
However, the VAR advised referee Chris Kavanagh to revisit that decision, which was overturned, allowing Smith Rowe to make the most of his reprieve by punishing a wasteful Newcastle side with a 109th-minute goal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's simple strike added a second and, while there is concern for Arsenal over Gabriel Martinelli, who suffered an ankle injury in the warm-up, Mikel Arteta's men will be thankful to have kept their defence alive following a below-par display.
Sensational pic.twitter.com/aOWDq2AU2J— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 9, 2021
A near-post effort from Aubameyang that drew a strong save from the returning Martin Dubravka was the best Arsenal could muster in the first half, and the visitors should have taken the lead after the interval.
Andy Carroll was flagged for offside after side-footing wide with the goal at his mercy, but replays showed that call would have been overturned by the VAR had he found the net.
Aubameyang failed to find the finish after being played in behind the Newcastle defence and Dubravka proved equal to a Joe Willock header, before the Gunners were grateful to Bernd Leno for sending the game to extra-time.
The goalkeeper prevented Carroll from converting after teenager Elliot Anderson's effort had been blocked into his path.
Smith Rowe was then shown a straight red card for a challenge on Longstaff, only for that punishment to be downgraded to a yellow.
Dubravka produced a show of extra-time acrobatics to tip over Granit Xhaka's long-range volley but could do nothing to deny Smith Rowe in the second additional period, the midfielder controlling fellow substitute Alexandre Lacazette's header on his chest and firing in a superb finish via the post.
Aubameyang then rounded off a well-worked move to make the game safe, Newcastle left to rue their earlier missed chances.
What does it mean? Arsenal picking up steam under Arteta
This was not their finest performance following a recent upturn from the Gunners, but the win means Arsenal have won four successive games in all competitions while conceding just one goal.
For Newcastle, it is another season that will end without a trophy. Staying in the Premier League is the only aim left for the Magpies.
Smith Rowe was the hero, but Kieran Tierney was instrumental throughout for Arsenal. The left-back played six key passes, including an assist for Aubameyang's tap-in.
Carroll's costly misses
Carroll saw two huge chances go begging and hit the target with just two of his nine total shots, with his profligacy at the end of normal time proving pivotal.
Key Opta Facts
- Arsenal have progressed from 24 of their last 25 FA Cup third-round ties, failing only against Nottingham Forest in 2017-18 in this run.
- Newcastle have lost 11 of their last 12 FA Cup ties against Premier League opponents, including each of the last seven in a row.
- Since his first appearance of the season on 26th November, Smith Rowe has been directly involved in six goals for Arsenal in all competitions (2 goals, 4 assists) – only Lacazette (6 goals, 1 assist) has been involved in more for the Gunners in that time.
- Aubameyang has scored in all four of his FA Cup appearances, netting six goals in total in the competition.
- Tierney has had three goal involvements (one goal, two assists) in his last two games for Arsenal, after having none in his first 20 appearances this season. The full-back created a game-high six chances today.
Arsenal are back in league action against Crystal Palace on Thursday, two days after Newcastle visit winless Sheffield United.