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Wednesday, March 18, 1998 Published at 00:06 GMT



Sport: Football

Arsenal and Sheffield United through on penalties

Arsenal and Sheffield United have both won nail-biting penalty shoot-outs to progress to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

West Ham vs Arsenal


Ian Brown reports from Upton Park (54')
FA Cup favourites Arsenal are through to the semi-final despite having star striker Dennis Bergkamp sent off in the first half of their replay against West Ham at Upton Park.

The tie was forced into extra time after John Hartson equalised Arsenal's first half goal from the French teenager Nicolas Anelka.

Arsenal lost Bergkamp in the 38th minute. The Dutchman saw red after the West Ham captain Steve Lomas pulled him back. He lashed out with his left elbow, catching Lomas full in the face.

The incident happened just a few feet from referee Mike Reed who had no hesitation in reaching for the red card.

Bergkamp's sending off, which means he will miss the semi-final, did not seem to affect Arsenal. They had controlled the first half of a lacklustre match and scored on the stroke of half time after an intricate build up involving Nigel Winterburn and Patrick Viera.

Winterburn caused the initial danger down the left, and played the ball into Viera. He found Anelka in the D with a short pass and the French teenager turned and shot sweetly past West Ham's French international goalkeeper Bernard Lama.

West Ham brought on an extra midfielder, John Moncur, at the start of the second half, taking off Ian Pearce - one of their three centre backs.

They began taking the game to Arsenal, and as the second half progressed began to camp in Arsenal's half. However, despite the promptings of Eyal Berkovic and Frank Lampard, all of their attacks foundered on the rocks of Tony Adams and Martin Keown.

In front of them, Petit and Viera were showing the same commitment that had won Arsenal their vital Premiership victory at Old Trafford on Saturday.

But despite excellent saves from Arsenal's Alex Manninger, a goal began to look inevitable. Hartson, had looked short of sharpness on his return from injury, but with 10 minutes to go he bulldozed his way into the area and shot low into the left corner.

The same player could have given West Ham the lead in the second minute of extra time. He misdirected a cross from the right, but Manninger also failed to read the ball and was grateful to see it bounce off the crossbar.


Arsenal triumph on penalties, commentary from BBC Radio 5Live (7'15")
But the tie went to penalties, and even then it was hard to separate the two sides, Arsenal eventually won 4-3 when Samassi Abou hit the post after the contest had gone into sudden-death.

Arsenal have now knocked West Ham out of both cup competitions in the quarter-finals at Upton Park. They now face Wolves at Villa Park on April 5.

Sheffield United vs Coventry City


Dave Woods reports from Bramall Lane (42')
Sheffield United's FA Cup dream continued at home as they too won the penalty shoot-out against Coventry City, but they had to come from behind to equalise with just seconds of normal time left on the clock.

The match was delayed 15 minutes because of crowd congestion, and Coventry took the lead in the 10th minute with a well-worked free kick. Four men stood around the ball before Paul Telfer peeled away from the group.

George Boateng then back-heeled the ball into Telfer's path and he blasted past Alan Kelly from 30 yards.

Sheffield United made Coventry work hard for the half-time lead after Nicky Marker, David Holdsworth and Vas Borbokis all went very close to equalising.

Borbokis appeared to have given the Blades an equaliser after he was brought down by David Burrows. Borbokis took the free-kick himself, but it flew inches wide.

Coventry began to assert themselves in the second half, without ever threatening to kill off their first division opponents.

Their Romanian striker Viorel Moldovan should have put Coventry further ahead in the 75th minute, but the Premiership side paid for their profligacy when Blades defender David Holdsworth equalised from a corner in the 88th minute.

Extra time came and went and Gary Kelly denied Darren Huckerby to force penalties when the Coventry striker really should have scored.

Kelly was the First Division side's hero in the penalty shoot-out, making three saves as United won 3-1.

They now face Newcastle United at Old Trafford on April 5.
 





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