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01 March 2024

Graham sends Swansea-Arsenal FA Cup tie to replay

Arsenal players look dejcted as Danny Graham of Swansea City celebrates scoring their second goal during the FA Cup third round match at Liberty Stadium on January 6, 2013 in Swansea, Wales. (GETTY)


Swansea City and Arsenal will settle their FA Cup third-round tie at the Emirates Stadium after Danny Graham struck late on to earn Swansea a 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

Goals from Lukas Podolski and Kieran Gibbs gave Arsenal the advantage in the final 10 minutes of the game, after Michu had struck to give Swansea the lead with his first touch after coming on as a second-half substitute.

Then, just as he did in the 2-2 Premier League draw against Aston Villa last week, Graham pounced from close in to force a replay.

It was always going to be a game for the purist -- two sides who enjoy passing the ball and who are not afraid of playing with a touch of directness too.

Swansea coach Michael Laudrup had spoken in mid-week of Arsenal forward Theo Walcott's pace and subsequent danger, and it took a decisive and typically robust challenge from Chico Flores to deny the England man an early chance.

However, Swansea won the sides' previous encounter 2-0 in December and they signalled their intentions in the 10th minute when Nathan Dyer's cross was hurriedly cleared by Per Mertesacker.

Graham was twice caught offside, perhaps a little harshly, before bringing out the best in Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

A long ball from Leon Britton provided the opportunity, with Szczesny at full stretch to beat away Graham's 20-yard strike.

Wayne Routledge sliced wide as Swansea came again and though Arsenal were certainly not short of possession, they found Swansea's back four a difficult nut to crack.

After a period of relative calm, Arsenal should have taken the lead when Aaron Ramsey exchanged passes with Gibbs before taking one touch too many in front of goal.

Ten minutes before half time, Dyer conceded possession deep inside his own half and though Gibbs picked out Santi Cazorla at the near post, the Spaniard's shot was high and wide.

It might have been a costly miss. A minute later, Jonathan de Guzman picked out Kyle Bartley with a deep free-kick and the former Arsenal defender struck the bar with a header.

Cazorla's shot on the turn, two minutes before the interval, was Arsenal's next best chance.

Olivier Giroud twice called Michel Vorm into action early in the second half, while Arsenal had a claim for a penalty in the 51st minute dismissed when Ramsey appeared to be tripped as he fought to cut across Dwight Tiendalli.

In response, Laudrup called for Michu, who had scored twice at the Emirates last month, and the Spaniard did the trick with his first involvement.

Graham worked tirelessly to win possession and when Michu clipped the ball into space, there was only ever one outcome.

Szczesny did his best to cut down the angle, but Michu made no mistake.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger threw on Podolski for the final 18 minutes and it certainly did the trick.

Swansea failed to clear a corner nine minutes from time and the German spun to beat Vorm with a clinical strike from a dozen yards.

Two minutes later, Arsenal were ahead. A crisp exchange of passes with Giroud provided Gibbs with the opportunity and the full-back volleyed spectacularly past Vorm.

Swansea left it late to snatch a share of the spoils against Villa last week and they did it again when Graham appeared at the far post from a corner to beat Szczesny from close range.