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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 January 2006, 22:21 GMT
Arsenal 2-1 Wigan (agg 2-2)
Wigan go through on away goals

Wigan celebrate Jason Roberts' goal
Roberts' late strike gave Arsenal no time to recover
Wigan reached the Carling Cup final - the first major final in their history - as Jason Roberts' 119th-minute effort put them through on away goals.

Keeper Mike Pollitt made a series of fine stops - including Jose Reyes' first-half penalty - before Thierry Henry headed home on 65 minutes.

And Robin van Persie's superb free-kick in the second period of extra-time looked to have put Arsenal through.

But some slack defending let Roberts in to scramble home the vital goal.

It was reward for the Wigan striker's persistence - he had missed a series of earlier chances - as he capitalised on hesistancy in the Arsenal defence before firing the ball past Manuel Almunia.

Wigan will point to three penalty claims of their own, all turned down by referee Phil Dowd, as evidence they should have emerged victorious from this semi-final second leg at Highbury.

Philippe Senderos appeared to grapple Roberts to the ground, though television replays showed the Swiss defender first fouled the Wigan striker outside the box.

Roberts was then involved in Wigan's second penalty claim when he was clearly wrestled to the floor by Sol Campbell.

And just after Henry's goal, Pascal Chimbonda went to ground in a one-on-one with Almunia.

If Pollitt was the busier of the two goalkeepers, Wigan's ability to penetrate the Arsenal defence meant the visitors gave Almunia plenty to think about.

Roberts went close late on in the first half when he was through, while after the interval he gave Almunia a fright with a header.

In extra-time the Wigan striker had more chances, but he was first tackled by Campbell and was then unable to get a clean connection on the ball after a corner.

But Roberts had the last laugh as his pace and power embarrassed Campbell and Senderos when he latched on to Graham Kavanagh's pass before forcing the ball past Almunia.

Pollitt's best save was his superb stop from Reyes' penalty midway through the first half after Stephane Henchoz handled a Henry cross.

Reyes' shot was low and hard to the left of Pollitt, but the Wigan keeper got down quickly to push the ball round the post.

More inspired goalkeeping from Pollitt saw him push away rising shots from Henry and Dennis Bergkamp as Arsenal continued to surge forward.

As well as his hands Pollitt proved just as adept with his feet, kicking away an Henry shot while he was lying on the ground after the Frenchman had outsprinted the Wigan defence.

The personal duel between Pollitt and Henry continued in the opening minutes of the second period when the Wigan keeper twice thwarted the Frenchman when he was through on goal.

Henry finally got the better of Pollitt when Kerrea Gilbert's intelligent cross picked out the Arsenal striker, who headed into the empty net.

And Pollitt, who made two more stops from a Bergkamp effort in extra-time, had no chance with Van Persie's arcing free-kick.


Arsenal: Almunia, Gilbert, Senderos, Campbell, Lauren, Hleb (Pires 69), Silva, Diaby (Flamini 45), Reyes, Bergkamp, Henry (Van Persie 79).
Subs Not Used: Poom, Djourou.

Booked: Reyes, Gilbert.

Goals: Henry 65, Van Persie 108.

Wigan: Pollitt, Chimbonda, Scharner, Henchoz, Baines, Teale, Bullard, Kavanagh, Mahon (Ziegler 63), Roberts, Mellor (Johansson 60).
Subs Not Used: Filan, Jackson, Francis.

Booked: Scharner, Kavanagh, Chimbonda.

Goals: Roberts 119.

Agg: (2-2) Wigan win on away goals rule

Att: 34,692

Ref: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

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