Ceballos late show sends Arsenal into FA Cup semi-finals

SHEFFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM (AFP) – Dani Ceballos fired Arsenal into the FA Cup semi-finals as the Spaniard’s stoppage-time strike clinched a dramatic 2-1 win at Sheffield United last night.

Mikel Arteta’s side rode their luck after surviving a second-half barrage from the Blades at Bramall Lane.

Nicolas Pepe put Arsenal ahead with a first-half penalty after Chris Basham fouled Alexandre Lacazette.

David McGoldrick equalised with three minutes left, but on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Ceballos settled a hard-fought quarter-final in the final moments.

Arsenal join Manchester United in the last four, with Leicester facing Chelsea and Newcastle hosting Manchester City in later matches.

Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during the FA Cup match against Sheffield United. PHOTO: AP

Arteta was Arsenal’s captain when they won the FA Cup final against Hull in 2014.

And the Gunners boss remains on course to get his hands on the silverware again as Arsenal look to win the competition for a 14th time.

After losing their first two matches following the restart, Arsenal, who beat Southampton in the Premier League in midweek, have now won two in a row.

The Blades have gone winless in their four matches since the English season restarted, ruining their hopes of a push to qualify for the Champions League and ending their FA Cup campaign.

Arteta made five changes, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah among those left out.

There was no place for Matteo Guendouzi, while Mesut Ozil was also absent from the Gunners squad. David Luiz was back in Arsenal’s defence after serving a suspension.

It wasn’t long before Arsenal’s defensive frailties were on display when John Lundstram nodded home from Oli McBurnie’s header, but the goal was ruled out by video assitant referee (VAR) for offside against the Blades midfielder.

Despite their unconvincing start, Arsenal grabbed the lead in the 25th minute.

Basham’s challenge on Lacazette looked innocuous, but he caught the Arsenal striker just inside the area and Paul Tierney awarded a penalty.

Ivory Coast winger Pepe stepped up to beat Dean Henderson from the spot for his eighth goal of the season.

Arsenal were clicking at last and Kieran Tierney broke down the left, crossing for Pepe to shoot just wide.

Henderson almost scored a remarkable goal from his own penalty area, the keeper’s wind-assisted kick bouncing past Gunners stopper Emiliano Martinez and narrowly over the bar.

Arsenal were undone by a terrible piece of defending in the 87th minute.

Sead Kolasinac made a comical mess of clearing Robinson’s long throw, smashing it into Mustafi and McGoldrick pounced to beat Martinez with a close-range finish.

It was United’s first goal in four games since the restart, but Arsenal had the perfect response. When Pepe was tackled by Enda Stevens, Ceballos seized the loose ball and drilled past Henderson’s weak attempted save to keep Arsenal’s silverware hopes alive.