ARSENAL midfielder Mikel Arteta admitted his penalty was a turning point as the Gunners beat his former club Everton 4-1 to book their place in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley.
Scorers: Arsenal - Ozil 7; Arteta 68pen; Giroud 83, 85; Everton - Lukaku 32
Olivier Giroud came off the bench to score twice to add to an early goal from Mesut Ozil and Arteta’s penalty after Romelu Lukaku scored from close range to briefly peg Arsenal level at the break.
Arteta converted from the spot, with his penalty kick having to be retaken following encroachment, to give Arsenal a 2-1 lead after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was tripped by Gareth Barry.
It meant the former Everton midfielder ensured he would play at Wembley for the first time after he missed out in the Toffeemen’s final defeat by Chelsea in 2009 due to a knee injury.
“Overall, we dominated the game and had the better chances but Everton are a good side and, when they broke in the first half, they scored a goal. Overall, we are happy to be at Wembley,” Arteta said.
Of his penalty, the Spaniard added: “It was a massive moment but I’m happy that I scored.
“It was [a turning point]. We knew they had to attack and on the break we would have the chances to score and we took it.”
The Gunners were ahead inside seven minutes when Santi Cazorla broke from midfield to the edge of the visitors’ penalty area, where he fed Ozil. The German playmaker took his shot first time on his left foot and despatched a low strike into the bottom-right corner past Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles.
The visitors rallied, though, and went into the break level following a fine counter-attack down the right by Ross Barkley, which ended up with Lukaku bundling home.
Arsenal – who head to Bayern Munich next week looking to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 clash – regrouped following the restart and went back ahead with Arteta’s penalty, awarded on 67 minutes when Ozil’s backheel released Oxlade-Chamberlain down the right and he was tripped by Barry after cutting inside.
Arteta smashed home the spot-kick into the bottom-left corner only for referee Mark Clattenburg to order a retake for encroachment by Giroud. Arteta kept his nerve to fire the ball in again, this time high into the right side of the net.
Giroud, who had come on for Yaya Sanogo just after the hour, made sure with a late double.
Bacary Sagna surged away down the right and got to the goal-line, where he cut the ball back for Giroud to crash home the third on 83 minutes. Then a blistering counter-attack ripped Everton apart. Cazorla fed Tomas Rosicky on the right, he picked out Ozil and his first-time ball into the centre was swept in by Giroud to keep Arsenal on course for a first trophy since the 2005 FA Cup.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez agreed that Arsenal’s penalty was the turning point in the game, but he questioned whether it should have been awarded.
“It was the key moment, the second goal. I felt it was a situation where Barry was fighting with Oxlade-Chamberlain for the ball and I felt there was contact but is that contact enough to give a penalty?” Martinez said.
“They are difficult decisions and sometimes you have to be a bit lucky for them to go in your favour.
“It was clear that the second goal was going to completely change the game and that was the case.
“I still feel the penalty was a very soft call but I can see why he made it. It’s very important in the final outcome of the game.”