By Rob Kelly at Wembley Stadium
We extended our remarkable record in the FA Cup by winning it for the 14th time after two more goals from our No 14. Take a bow, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
On the day we marked 70 years of service from Ken Friar, in a final played behind closed doors for the first time, we also sealed Europa League football for next season after coming from behind to seal a dramatic win.
Much of that was down to the man who lifted the trophy amid joyous celebrations at the end, Aubameyang converting from the spot before a sensational second-half finish to win us the game.
This strangest of finals got off to an open start as the Gabon international headed wide within three minutes, before Mason Mount tested Emi Martinez from long range.
But before we had time to settle into the game, the Blues took the lead as they swept forward and former Gunner Olivier Giroud found Christian Pulisic to open the scoring.
It was a hammerblow to go behind so early in the contest, and the American had a chance to add his second not long afterwards, but Martinez was equal to his shot from inside the area.
It wasn’t looking good, but we patiently worked our way back into the contest and thought we had an equaliser when Nicolas Pepe curled the ball into the top corner after a slick move – only for it to be ruled out as Aubameyang had strayed offside.
But our pinpoint passes in behind the Chelsea defence were causing all manner of problems, and moments later Kieran Tierney put Aubameyang away with a fine ball up the left. The Gabon international was hauled down by Cesar Azpilicueta in the box – penalty.
Our captain stood up and held his nerve to send Willy Caballero the wrong way. Game on.
We continued to press forward and had much the better of the rest of the first half, coming close to taking the lead when Alex Lacazette curled a free wide from the edge of the area.
Chelsea came flying out of the blocks after the restart as the dangerous Pulisic raced clear and into the box, but curled his shot wide of the far post.
But again we grew into the half, and had a chance when Pepe and Lacazette combined, before Aubameyang’s effort was blocked inside the box.
The game was finely-poised – and nowhere near as open as the first half – and as the clock ticked on, the tension only increased.
But with 68 minutes gone we burst forward through Hector Bellerin and Pepe, with the latter finding Aubameyang in the box. There was still much to do, but the striker turned Kurt Zouma superbly before dinking the ball into the net.
What a strike. What a striker.
There was further drama when Matteo Kovacic was sent off for a second bookable offence, but importantly there were no further goals – and a record 14th FA Cup was ours.
What a moment for Mikel Arteta in his first season as a head coach – and what a moment for all the fans across the world who we wished could have been with us at Wembley.
HOW IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
This victory extends our record as the club with the most FA Cups to their name – and importantly also means we will be in next season’s Europa League.
We now head into a well-earned summer break, before the Premier League returns on September 12.
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