Cyprus Mail

Arsenal rout Villa in final to claim FA Cup record

Holders Arsenal won the FA Cup for a record 12th time on Saturday, outclassing Aston Villa 4-0 at Wembley with stunning goals from Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez setting up their one-sided victory.

Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud were also on target, once the match was effectively over as a contest, as the Londoners sealed their biggest winning margin in a final of the world’s oldest knockout competition.

Arsene Wenger also became the most successful FA Cup manager of modern times, guiding his side to a sixth triumph in their 19th final, another record.

Arsenal, who came from two goals down to beat Hull City 3-2 a year ago, were never in trouble against Villa and should have been ahead even before Walcott put them in front with a sizzling left-foot volley after 40 minutes.

Sanchez made it 2-0 against a hugely disappointing Villa, who hardly had a serious effort on goal, five minutes into the second half with a glorious dipping shot.

Mertesacker then converted a close-range header when he was left unmarked at a set-piece and Giroud, who came on as a late substitute, side-footed the ball home with the last kick of the game.

Arsenal’s victory was cheered by Southampton fans as it means they will now take the last remaining place in next season’s Europa League after finishing seventh in the Premier League.

Seven-times FA Cup winners Villa would have qualified for the Europa League with another victory.


However, all they have to look forward to now is a rebuilding job under new manager Tim Sherwood who saved them from relegation but could not mastermind their first FA Cup triumph since 1957.

Arsenal dominated the match as Villa fan Prince William looked on from the Royal Box.

The Gunners almost took the lead after 14 minutes but Villa’s 39-year-old keeper Shay Given, who also played in the final for Newcastle United 17 years ago, made a brilliant save from a Laurent Koscielny header.

They went close again through Aaron Ramsey, last season’s Wembley match-winner, and the midfielder had another chance to put Arsenal ahead with a shot that flew over the bar.

Walcott, preferred in the starting lineup to Giroud, justified Wenger’s faith with the opening goal, an effort that gave Given no chance.

The keeper could also do little about Sanchez’s superb strike as Arsenal retained the FA Cup for the second time in their history, after achieving back-to-back wins in 2002 and 2003.

They rounded off the season with a 12-0 goal advantage over Villa after beating them 3-0 and 5-0 in this season’s Premier League matches.

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