2007-01-31

Young Gunners beat Spurs to reach Carling Cup Final

Arsenal Football Club got a great 3-1 victory over Tottenham on Wednesday to edge past its north London rival and set a Carling Cup final against Chelsea.

Indeed, Jeremie Aliadiere and Tomas Rosicky scored in extra time to give Arsenal a 5-3 aggregate win in the semifinal, Rosicky's shot going in off Spurs player Pascal Chimbonda.

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

In fact, the Gunnersgot a goal in each period of extra time to keep alive its seven-year unbeaten streak in all competitions against its fiercest rival.

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

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

Arsene Wenger again picked young, mostly second-string players for the tournament, while Tottenham was 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 praised. "You do not always know when a player is 18, 19 if he is ready to dig deep and suffer."

Amazingly, Wenger admitted that he planned to field his young players in the final, meaning players such as Thierry Henry would again sit out the game.c

After an even first half when the Gunners midfielder Denilson had the best chance but saw goalkeeper Paul Robinson push away his shot and Toure put the rebound wide, the second period opened with a flurry of corners and tough challenges from both sides.

The Derby emotions roused the home fans - who had been taunted by their Tottenham rivals for their earlier silence with chants of: "It's just like a library" - and they saw Theo Walcott chip over from the edge of the area as play switched from end to end.

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

Midfielder 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 yards (meters). It was his eighth goal of the season.

The Spurs counter attacked 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 defence to head in over goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

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

The teams switched ends for the second period and Rosicky slalomed through before shooting past Robinson off a deflection by Chimbonda.

We must remember that the last time the north London rivals met in a Carling Cup semifinal, in 1987, a third game was needed to separate the teams and Arsenal got a 2-1 triumph.

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