By Richard Clarke
Emmanuel Adebayor scored five minutes from time against 10-man Everton at Goodison Park to send Arsenal into the Quarter-Finals of the Carling Cup on Wednesday night.
The Togolese striker rose unmarked to nod home a corner from Mathieu Flamini just when it seemed that extra-time was inevitable.
Everton had been a man short since the 19th minute when James McFadden received a straight red card, presumably for speaking out of turn to the referee following the refusal of Andy Johnson's penalty appeal.
The former Crystal Palace striker was the home side's best chance of a goal this evening but, as they had at West Brom in the last round, Arsenal's youngsters remained mature and composed.
They gradually turned the screw on their more experienced rivals and, as Everton gradually tired, the visitors took control.
They came away with a highly satisfying victory.
Wenger made 11 changes from the side that had lost 1-0 at West Ham on Saturday. However the entire substitutes' bench at Upton Park began the game. Exciting Brazilian midfielder Denilson continued his Carling Cup run and Armand Traore made his first start after his 67-minute appearance in the 2-0 win at West Brom in the last round. It was heartening to see Ryan Garry named on the bench. The young defender's career has so cruelly hit been hit by injury over the past few years
This was expected to be a spicy cup tie and it did not disappoint. The first half had almost everything - chances, controversy and passion - but not a goal.
In the seventh minute, McFadden pressurised Traore after the ball was crossed deep into the Arsenal six-yard box. The French full back cleared the ball effectively but booted his own keeper, Manuel Almunia, in the face in the process. The Spaniard recovered after treatment. From the corner Tim Cahill sent a stooping header wide.
The game changed in the 19th minute. Johnson's penalty appeal was turned down and, as Djourou brought the ball clear, it seems McFadden may have said something to referee Graham Poll. It can be the only explanation for the red card he pulled out of his pocket straight afterwards
A couple of minutes later, Howard executed a great save from Aliadiere's header but it would not have counted as Alex Song handled in the build up. The chance did not lead to Arsenal taking over.
In fact Everton belied their lack of numbers in the following few minutes. Joseph Yobo nodded narrowly wide from Mikel Arteta's corner and then Nuno Valente nearly caught out Alumnia with a tumbling punt forwards. It ended up on the roof of the net as the keeper's heart ended up in his mouth.
It was proving to be an even affair. Everton had experience, the home support and a sense of injustice, Arsenal had a numerical advantage, technique and youth.
On the half-hour Cahill and Johnson combined for the Australian to side foot a shot towards the corner of the net. Almunia saved with ease. Five minutes before the break, Flamini sent a clever angled chip over the visiting defence and Walcott volleyed over the bar with the outside of his foot.
Up to that point it was the best chance of the half. However it would be superseded twice before the break.
First Johnson flicked the ball harmlessly at Almunia when, unbeknown to him, the England striker was in ample space.
The ball flew to the other end and Walcott's excellent cross gave Adebayor a chance on the edge of the six yard box. His shot hit Howard when had it gone a foot either side Arsenal would have taken the lead.
Mart Poom replaced Almunia at the break and, within minutes, made a flying save as Johnson went through in the area.
However Arsenal were starting to squeeze their opponents and make their extra player tell. Midway through the half, Aliadiere bulldozered through and tumbled in the area. Again referee Poll waved play on. Then Denilson limped off and Mark Randall came off the bench.
Arsenal were continuing to look the side more likely to break the deadline. But they were not really testing Howard. Extra time loomed.
Adebayor was left entirely unmarked when Flamini found him with that corner five minutes from time. Johnson had a couple of chances to grab an equaliser, but on the other hand, Aliadiere fired over in injury time when he could have killed the tie.
In a tight-lipped week, Arsenal had let their football do the talking at the death.
- Almunia 46
- Song Yellow Card
- Denilson 70
- Aliadiere Yellow Card
- Adebayor Goal! Yellow Card
- Poom 46
- Randall 70
- Nuno Valente
- McFadden Red Card
- Carsley 91
- Anichebe 91