West Ham 1 Arsenal 1 (aet, 3-4 on penalties)
Ten man Arsenal won a dramatic penalty shoot-out after playing for 87 minutes
without sent off Dennis Bergkamp in a nerve-shredding FA Cup quarter-final
It finally ended in heartbreak for West Ham as Samassi Abou's sudden death
spot-kick hit a post.
The Super-resilient Gunners looked dead and buried when Dutch ace Bergkamp was
shown the red card for the second time in his Highbury career after only 33
Bergkamp thrust an elbow into the face of Hammers captain Steve Lomas in
answer to a tug of his shirt inside the centre circle.
Arsenal's hopes of reaching the semi-finals - and a repeat meeting of their
1979 clash with Wolves at Villa Park next month - looked forlorn as they faced
up to the inevitable barrage from their London neighbours who had failed to beat
them on four previous occasions this season.
But before West Ham could find their winning stride, teenage French striker
Nicolas Anelka stunned Upton Park by firing Arsenal infront with almost the last
kick of the first half.
West Ham's frenzied efforts to rescue their Wembley hopes met a brick wall of
Arsenal resistance, with another teenager, Austrian goalkeeper Alex Manninger,
taking over the hero's role with a series of heart-stopping saves.
But even he was beaten six minutes from the end of normal time when ex-Gunner
John Hartson finally made his mark against the club who sold him to the Hammers
in a £5million deal a year ago.
But extra-time still did not weaken Arsenal's resolve and Hartson was to end
up with more disappointment when his effort in the penalty shoot-out came back
off a post.
A similar fate met Abou's effort after Arsenal skipper Tony Adams had potted
his team 4-3 infront in a climax that was as theatrical as all that went
Arsenal's leg-weary troops somehow found enough energy to dance jigs of joy at
the end but now they face the semi-final without 18-goal Bergkamp who also
misses key Premiership matches against Newcastle and Bolton for his second
sending off in two seasons. He has also collected nine yellow cards this
But after this momentous effort Arsenal will still believe that the league and
cup double is a growing possibility.
West Ham blew their Wembley chance by failing to cash in on Bergkamp's
dismissal. Their passing and team-work lacked the cohesion to break down the
Gunners' renowned powers of defence, with Adams and Martin Keown typifying their
effort once more in another against the odds triumph.
And West Ham could easily have been down to ten men themselves when Abou
appeared to butt Keown in trying to shake off his grip following a corner in the
Referee Mike Reed who booked seven players and sent off Bergkamp, missed that
one and also what seemed a clear stamp by Hartson on Arsenal's Patrick Vieira.
Midfielder Vieira and his French pal Manu Petit ran miles and sweated buckets
to stem the tide of West Ham attacks.
But they couldn't have done it without the wonderful goalkeeping of Manninger
who time after time flung his frame across goal to keep out Hartson (twice),
Frank Lampard and Abou.
He was finally beaten just when Arsenal looked like holding on to the
advantage of Anelka's unstoppable 45th minute blast from Vieira's pass but it
took a goal of real quality by Hartson to do it.
After Lee Dixon gave the ball away, the non-stop Berkovic channelled it
through on the left and Hartson had only one aim in mind as he cut into the box,
stepped past Keown and delivered his drive just inside the near post before
Adams could get in a challenge.
Even in extra-time it looked odds on a Hammers win as exhausted Arsenal were
reduced to using two tiny substitutes, Portugal's Luis Boa Morte and Liberian
Christopher Wreh up-front after Anelka had run himself out.
West Ham just pumped the ball forward at will and congested the game almost
exclusively in and around the opposition penalty area and yet Manninger needed
only two more dashes of heroism smothering shots by substitutes John Moncur and
tireless Berkovic before it went to a penalty shoot-out.
Both teams had experienced one of these before in the cup runs but unlike at
Blackburn in the fifth round, West Ham lost their spot kick touch.
Substitute Steve Hughes easily buried the first for Arsenal and David Unsworth
equalised before Hartson hit a post.
Wreh's miss had given the Welshman the chance of glory again but just as in
the Coca-Cola Cup meeting between the teams in January he couldn't make it
Boa Morte put Arsenal 2-1 up, Lampard levelled and Hammers had another great
opportunity after Remi Garde was off target.
But then Manninger crowned his glorious performance with a flying save to keep
out Berkovic's penalty and although Lomas equalised the next Arsenal success by
Vieira it was finally left to Abou, the man from the Ivory Coast to throw it all
away after Adams had thrust Arsenal ahead again.
Abou kept his shot low and it would have beaten Manninger but Hammers held
their heads in anguish as the ball bounced back off the foot of a post.
West Ham: Lama, Potts, Unsworth, Hartson, Lomas, Ferdinand,
Lazaridis, Lampard, Pearce (Moncur 45), Abou, Berkovic.
Subs Not Used: Forrest, Bishop, Mean, Hodges.
Booked: Abou, Lomas.
Goals: Hartson 84.
Arsenal: Manninger, Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Adams,
Anelka (Wreh 82), Bergkamp, Overmars (Hughes 65), Keown,
Petit (Boa Morte 90), Garde.
Subs Not Used: Lukic, Grimandi.
Sent Off: Bergkamp (33).
Booked: Garde, Boa Morte, Hughes, Winterburn.
Goals: Anelka 45.
Ref: M D Reed (Birmingham).