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Football: ASHLEY COOL; Sheffield United 0 Arsenal 0 Arsenal win 4-2 on penalties The tap in ... not the tap up... that saved Arsenal's season from falling apart.

Byline: DAVID ANDERSON

ASHLEY COLE held his nerve last night and tapped in the penalty that kept Arsenal's dreams of FA Cup glory alive.

The England defender's commitment to the Gunners has been questioned after he was alleged to have had a secret meeting with Chelsea about a summer move to Stamford Bridge.

But all that was forgotten at Bramall Lane as Cole scored the winning penalty in the 4-2 shoot-out victory over Sheffield United after the fifth round replay ended 0-0 following extra time.

Boss Arsene Wenger said: "I'm delighted for Ashley and I'm delighted for everyone. Ashley had to play in the middle of the park tonight because I thought he would give us more going forward and he did very well.

"He helped us win and I hope this can be a turning point for us. We came back frustrated from Southampton on Saturday, we came back frustrated from Bayern Munich and we would have been frustrated if we had lost tonight.

"I just feel that we have been missing by a fraction in our last games and now we have nicked this hopefully things will turn round.

"Hopefully we can push on from here and I thought we showed our quality, determination and real character. We never gave up for 120 minutes and their goalkeeper had a fantastic game."

Manuel Almunia was Arsenal's other spot-kick hero as the much-maligned Spaniard saved from Alan Quinn and Jon Harley to set up a quarter-final meeting with Bolton.

CAPTION(S):

SLOT KING: Cole converts his spot kick in the shoot-out to send Arsenal through to the quarter-finals Pic: BRADLEY ORMESHER
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2005
Words:271
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