Gunners' Wenger lauds 'ready to die' Reading

Gunners' Wenger lauds 'ready to die' Reading
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring the second goal for Arsenal.

LONDON - Arsene Wenger set his sights on a record-breaking FA Cup triumph after holders Arsenal rode their luck to return to the final with a 2-1 win over Reading.

Wenger's club will contest a record 19th FA Cup final thanks to a howler from Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici, who allowed Alexis Sanchez's tame extra-time shot to squirm into the net to settle a tense semi-final at Wembley on Saturday.

Federici's costly mistake allowed Arsenal to escape with a win they barely deserved, from a performance that got progressively more disjointed after Garath McCleary's second-half strike cancelled out Sanchez's 39th-minute opener.

Regardless of the manner of their progress, the result took Arsenal ahead of Manchester United on 19 FA Cup final appearances, and a victory when they return to Wembley next month would give the North Londoners the trophy for the 12th time, breaking the record they currently share with United.

"The records show you are consistent, that is the most difficult thing to do," Wenger said.

"Overall, any final is a 50-50, but if we can win and get the record, that would be great."

Wenger had no qualms admitting that Arsenal were well below their best at Wembley but, rather than berate his players, he claimed Reading deserved immense credit for their tireless work rate.

"The spirit and concentration was there, but what was missing was the speed and sharpness of our combinations in the last third," he said.

"It was a difficult game against a very resilient and physical team. We controlled the game in the first half but in the second, we struggled to come with the same intensity.

"Reading were ready to die on the pitch to go to the final and you have to congratulate them for their effort."

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