Arsenal close in on Carling glory
Arsenal 3 Ipswich Town 0 (Arsenal won 3-1 on aggregate): Arsenal booked their place at Wembley as they finally broke down Ipswich in last night's Carling Cup semi-final second leg at the Emirates Stadium.
The Championship club were protecting a slender 1-0 lead from a fortnight ago in Suffolk and defended resolutely to frustrate the Gunners for more than an hour.
However, Nicklas Bendtner finally ended their resistance with a fine individual goal on the hour before Laurent Koscielny headed in a second and captain Cesc Fabregas kept Arsene Wenger's men on course for a first trophy since 2005.
They will now face either Birmingham City or West Ham at Wembley on Sunday February 27.
Fabregas said: “It is going to be a very difficult final, but we will do our best because I think the fans deserve a trophy again at the Emirates.
“The goal was to get to the final, but it was difficult. We have got to congratulate Ipswich for what they've done. We wanted to score an early goal, but the key was patience and we did it really well.”
Fellow goalscorer Bendtner said: “It's been a little while since I last scored, but I made a good run in behind and it was a good finish.
“We always knew we'd have the chances and it was just a case of finishing them off.
“We do everything we can in every match to win a trophy and now we're in one final and we'll do everything to try and win it.”
After 10 minutes Fabregas burst into the Ipswich box and went down under an outstretched arm from Gareth McAuley, but referee Mark Halsey waved play on.
McAuley was then in the thick of the action at the other end, heading over a deep free-kick into the Arsenal danger zone.
Arsenal had plenty of possession, but were faced with trying to break down an organised resistance, Ipswich deploying two banks of four behind the ball.
The pressure, though, was relentless and when the breakthrough finally came after 61 minutes, it was thanks to a moment of real quality from the much-criticised Bendtner.
A quick ball from Jack Wilshere out to the left was brought down superbly by the Dane, who then cut inside with a deft backheel before curling a low shot into the bottom right corner.
Before Ipswich could recover, it was 2-0. Martin Fulop came to punch a left-wing corner from Andrei Arshavin, but got nowhere near the ball as Koscielny headed in from six yards.
Fabregas slotted home the third on 77 minutes after being played in by Arshavin following a surging 40-yard run.