Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Gunners through to Cup final

CARDIFF-BOUND Arsenal fielded a young, mostly second-string side, while Spurs were hit by the loss of Dimitar Berbatov to injury and Aaron Lennon to illness


Arsenal beat Tottenham 3-1 on Wednesday to edge past their north London rivals and set up a League Cup final against Chelsea.

Jeremie Aliadiere and Tomas Rosicky scored in extra time to give Arsenal a 5-3 aggregate win in the semi-final.

The game had finished 1-1 in regular time after Tottenham substitute Ahmed Mido scored in the 85th minute following Emmanuel Adebeyor's 77th-minute opener.

Arsenal then got a goal in each period of extra time to keep alive their seven-year unbeaten streak in all competitions against their fiercest rival.

"We were a little bit wobbling when it went to 1-1 and we needed extra time and then it was all us," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "I did not feel any threat any more."

Having drawn last week's first leg 2-2 at Tottenham after trailing 2-0, Arsenal will meet Chelsea in the Feb. 25 final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

Wenger again picked young, mostly second-string players for the tournament, while Tottenham were hit by the loss to injury of striker Dimitar Berbatov and the withdrawal through illness of winger Aaron Lennon.

"What is fantastic is to see that at such a young age players can cope with pressure," Wenger said. "You do not always know when a player is 18, 19 if he is ready to dig deep and suffer."

Wenger said he planned to field his young players in the final, meaning the likes of Thierry Henry would again sit out the match.

"They played with mental strength and resilience and I'm very proud of them and they deserve to be in the final," Wenger said. "I want them to be there."

Spurs strikers Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe struggled to make an impact upon Arsenal's central defense of Kolo Toure and Philippe Senderos -- two of only four players in the home team's starting lineup to regularly feature in the first team.

After an even first half the second period opened with a flurry of corners and tough challenges from both sides.

In response to a reduced amount of possession, Wenger brought on Rosicky to replace Walcott in the 64th minute, followed by another first-team regular, Gael Clichy. The substitutions led to greater possession for the Gunners and they eventually scored.

Rosicky had a shot parried by goalkeeper Paul Robinson and, from the rebound, set up Adebeyor to score with a left-foot shot from about 10 meters. It was his eighth goal of the season.

Spurs responded with the introduction of Mido and midfielder Tom Huddlestone and equalized soon after. Jermaine Jenas curled in a right-footed free kick from the left and Mido leapt above the Arsenal defense to head in over goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

Arsenal continued to press in extra time and scored again at the end of the first 15-minute period.

Substitute defender Ricardo Rocha, who only joined Tottenham last week, slipped when he tried to head out a cross and Aliadiere punished the error with a fierce shot into the net from close range.

In the second period Rosicky slalomed through before shooting past Robinson off a deflection by Chimbonda.

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