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Gunners scrape past the Blades.

Arsenal survived a dramatic night at Bramall Lane to book themselves a quarter-final against Bolton, with Alan Quinn and Jon Harley missing penalties in the penalty shoot-out which followed a goalless 120 minutes.

Despite lacking the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Jose Antonio Reyes through suspension and injuries, it was Arsenal who had the better of the chances.

Pascal Cygan, Jeremie Aliadiere, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie and Cesc Fabregas all had chances, but the thrilling tie went all the way to spot-kicks.

Quinn and Harley failed where Arsenal's players all succeeded, with goalkeeper Manuel Almunia saving both to make himself the hero.

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger went into his side's fifth-round replay at Bramall Lane without the injured Thierry Henry, Sol Campbell and Robert Pires plus suspended trio Dennis Bergkamp, Jose Antonio Reyes and Robin van Persie.

Arturo Lupoli, 17, joined makeshift forward Freddie Ljungberg in attack.

The Blades had Paddy Kenny in goal after passing a late fitness test on a hip injury, while Paul Thirlwell returned after serving a one-match ban.

United should have taken the lead after just 39 seconds as Arsenal were caught cold at the back.

Derek Geary's ball down the right wing found Andy Gray, who had timed his run to perfection to avoid being caught offside.

His dart into the penalty area drew Almunia, and he cut the ball back to Michael Tonge in the six-yard box, but the midfielder fired high and wide past an empty goal from five yards.

Cygan needed treatment in the fifth minute after being caught by a high boot on the side of the head from Gray, and the game settled down into a predictable pattern.

The Gunners dominated possession yet neither Ljungberg nor Lupoli seemed capable of holding up the ball.

Arsenal's first chance did not materialise until the 16th minute with Cesc Fabregas playing a ball into Lupoli on the edge of the area. He fed Ljungberg for a flicked shot that went just wide.

The first booking followed in the 26th minute when referee Phil Dowd cautioned Gael Clichy, playing at left-back with Ashley Cole on the left wing, for a mis-timed challenge on Geary.

In the absence of any goalmouth incidents, the needle factor started to rise between the two teams.

Kenny, clearly nursing his injury, was finally tested five minutes from the break, albeit in merely cutting out a cross from Patrick Vieira at the second time of asking.

Wenger made a change at the break, taking off Lupoli and replacing him with Quincy.

Inside a minute of the second half, the Gunners were caught napping in defence again, as they had been at the outset of the game, this time Nick Montgomery the provider from the right.

Tonge and Liddell both failed to make contact as the ball was whipped into the box, and although it eventually fell to Harley, he miskicked from six yards.

Five minutes later, Kenny made his first meaningful save as he tipped away an angled drive from Quincy.

Arsenal were just beginning to gather some momentum, with Quincy popping up on the left wing in the 56th minute for a cross that Kenny tipped into the path of Fabregas. His drive was kept out by the outstretched right boot of the Republic of Ireland international.

Two minutes later Vieira's through-ball for Fabregas split the home defence, and although the Spaniard's shot beat Kenny, Geary was on hand to scoop the ball over the bar.

Fabregas struck the top of the crossbar with a cracking drive after a driving run from Vieira, who was then involved in a clash of heads with Montgomery which resulted in both players requiring treatment.

The Gunners thoroughly outplayed United over the closing 20 minutes of the half.

Yet Warnock's side did come close in the 81st minute in a rare breather, with skipper Chris Morgan flicking narrowly over the bar a long-range throw from Leigh Bromby.

Three minutes later, it took another Kenny save low down to his near post to deny Fabregas again.

In the first of three minutes of injury time Almunia made a stunning save to tip over a bullet header from Harley from eight yards after Geary had whipped in a superb cross.

The extra 30 minutes brought several chances for the visitors, with Cygan guilty of a glaring miss from six yards for Arsenal and substitute Aliadiere being foiled by Kenny.

But it was to go to penalties and Arsenal prevailed, with Quinn and Harley failing from the spot ( Vieira, Cole, Lauren and Ljungberg all scoring as the Gunners edged through.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2005
Words:767
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