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FA Cup holders sweat for victory


Extra-time goals from Emile Smith Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ensured holders Arsenal beat a stubborn Newcastle 2-0 in the FA Cup third round.

In-form Smith Rowe had an eventful evening after arriving as a second-half substitute, seeing a red card rightly rescinded before opening the scoring.

Aubameyang tapped in the second after a slick move cut Newcastle open.

Andy Carroll missed two golden chances in normal time, which could have sent Arsenal to a rare third-round exit.

The Gunners, who have won the FA Cup on a record 14 occasions, go into the fourth-round draw having being knocked out in the third round just once in the past 25 years.

But it could have been different had 32-year-old striker Carroll been able to convert his opportunities, particularly the second, which came in the final minute of normal time.

Arsenal would have had little time to recover from that and they had keeper Bernd Leno to thank as he reacted quickly to spread himself to smother Carroll’s shot.

That chance came after former England striker Carroll had been unable to take another opportunity early in the second half, staying onside but side-footing wide.

“It can only be defined as an absolute sitter,” former Newcastle and England striker Alan Shearer said afterwards.

Instead, it was a player at the other end of his career who took the plaudits. Smith Rowe, with his energy and willingness to carry the ball, has added another dimension to Arsenal’s attacking play in recent weeks.

After an insipid first half, the England youth international was brought on as a 56th-minute substitute by Gunners boss Mikel Arteta and quickly became the game’s central character.—BBC

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