Saturday, 8 January 2011
Arsenal 1 Leeds United 1 match report
The Gunners dominated for long periods but, against the run of play, Denilson fouled Max Gradel and Robert Snodgrass put Leeds ahead from the spot.
Luciano Becchio went close to making it 2-0 but late Arsenal pressure paid off.
Fabregas coolly slotted home after Ben Parker held back Theo Walcott and only a super Kasper Schmeichel save stopped Denilson winning it for the Gunners.
It was a dramatic finish to a thrilling third-round tie and means Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is still yet to taste defeat to a lower-division side in the Cup, and has not lost at home in this competition since Arsenal were beaten by the same opposition in 1997.
Leeds, who as a League One side famously beat Manchester United at the same stage of last year's FA Cup before taking Tottenham to a replay, have become accustomed to causing upsets since losing their top-flight status in 2004.
The Championship highflyers almost got their reward for a resilient performance on their first visit to the Emirates, surviving a flurry of first-half Arsenal chances before hitting back with a classic sucker punch.
Schmeichel was in fine form, rushing from his line to deny Andrey Arshavin, and also denying Denilson and Nicklas Bendtner before the break.
And the Leeds defence, led by the impressive Alex Bruce, was also in determined mood. Jonathan Howson had to clear a Sebastien Squillaci effort off his line and Becchio was also in the right place to hack clear after a goalmouth scramble.
The Gunners continued to press after the break but it was Leeds who broke the deadlock in the 54th minute. There was no doubt about the penalty either, with Denilson clumsily fouling Gradel and Snodgrass stepping up to find the bottom corner of the net.
That left Arsenal more than 30 minutes to find an equaliser but initially they toiled and were grateful to their keeper Wojciech Szczesny for keeping out a powerful Becchio header.
Snodgrass also saw a free-kick swerve just wide before Arsenal, with Walcott and Fabregas by now off the bench, turned their vastly superior possession into chances in the closing moments.
Walcott was, briefly, awarded a penalty when he was upended in the box but referee Phil Dowd reversed his decision because Bendtner had been flagged offside.
Seconds later, Dowd was pointing to the spot again - this time without changing his mind - after Walcott was tugged back by Parker. Fabregas, cool as a cucumber, fired his penalty straight down the middle of the goal.
In a breathless finish Arsenal poured forward looking for a winner but Leeds held out for a deserved replay after Bendtner wastefully fired wide and Schmeichel acrobatically kept out Denilson's rasping effort.