Arsenal’s defence of the FA Cup is underway with a hard-fought extra-time victory over Newcastle United at Emirates stadium on Saturday evening.
Academy product Emile Smith-Rowe, who saw a red card broken the deadlock earlier in the match – slotted the deciding goal in the 109th minute, capitalising on Ciaran Clark’s error to fire in off the inside of the far post.
Club skipper, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who struggles in front of goal in recent weeks, secured his side’s progression to the fourth round in the closing stages of extra time, tapping in from Kieran Tierney’s pull-back.
Mikel Arteta’s men are dominated the ball during the 90 minutes of regular time but struggled to break down their hard-working visitors, with a number of attackers failing to make good on their recalls to the starting XI.
Andy Carroll fired Newcastle’s best chance of the match wide in the second-half, before Gunners starlet Joe Willock saw a header from close range kept out by Martin Dubravka after the hour mark.
There was late drama in regular time as Andy Carroll went close again and Smith-Rowe, 20, saw red for a late lunge, before Chris Kavanagh downgraded the card to a yellow after consulting the pitchside monitor.
The red card overturn proved vital as Emile Smith-Rowe went on to score the winner.
Meanwhile, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta was thankful VAR was in operation for their 2-0 win over The Magpies in the FA Cup and praised the growing importance of Emile Smith-Rowe.
Arteta said: ‘I was going mad because when I saw the action on TV, I didn’t think that he could get sent off but thank God the regulators decided to have VAR and today it worked the way it should work, so I am so happy to have that.
‘We believe in Emile, he is doing really well. He is growing and becoming more and more important in the team.
‘Today he showed that again the way he came on, the personality that he played with and we asked him to be more in the box, more of a threat in front of goal and he scored a really important goal for us.’