Swansea City 2-2 Arsenal
The FA Cup with Budweiser
Third Round Proper
1.30pm, Sunday 6 January 2013
Live on ESPN
Winning clubs will receive £67,500 from The FA prize fund
by Zarif Rasul
Swansea City and Arsenal will meet again for a place in the Fourth Round Proper of The FA Cup with Budweiser after playing out an enthralling 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium.
A quiet first half passed without incident, but four goals after the break, including three inside a frantic six-minute spell, means both sides will do battle again for the right to face Brighton in the next round.
Spanish midfielder Michu, who was Swansea’s saviour when the two sides met in the league in December, opened the scoring within 74 seconds of his arrival as a substitute with a calm, low finish.
Arsene Wenger’s fine record of guiding his side to the Fourth Round Proper in every season he has been at the club, appeared to be in danger with ten minutes remaining, but substitute Lukas Podolski’s neat, swivelled shot brought Arsenal back on level terms.
The visitors thought they’d snatched the win less than two minutes later when energetic full-back Kieran Gibbs superbly volleyed the ball past Michel Vorm, but striker Danny Graham had the last laugh as he made the most of poor defending to slam the ball into the Gunners' net and earn Swansea a late reprieve.
Both sides have garnered justified reputations for being two of the top flight’s most cultured passing sides, but a lack of cutting edge in the opening period failed to see the tie ignite.
Former Arsenal defender Kyle Bartley was desperately unlucky not to break the deadlock in the 36th minute, with his firm header thumping the top of the crossbar, while Gunners playmaker Santi Cazorla uncharacteristically skied over from inside the box after latching onto Gibbs’s smart cut-back.
Chances may have been at a premium inside the first 45 minutes but the match exploded into life when Michu took to the field.
Arriving as a replacement for Jonathan de Guzman, the Spaniard coolly lifted the ball over Per Mertesacker and raced towards goal before planting a left-foot shot beyond Wojciech Szczesny.
The goal sparked a response from the visitors, but Wenger rued the profligacy of his forwards, with Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott both spurning excellent opportunities to level.
Wenger threw on Podolski in a bid to boost his side’s firepower and it worked as the Germany international adroitly angled the ball past Vorm after latching onto Laurent Koscielny’s cute pass.
The goal increased Arsenal’s impetus and Gibbs doubled their tally moments later in spectacular fashion, lashing his volley high and hard into roof of the net following an exquisite exchange of passes with Giroud.
But Swansea refused to give up and poured forward in search of an equaliser.
And with just three minutes remaining they got their reward as Graham smashed the ball beyond Szczesny from just inside the six-yard box to send the Liberty Stadium into raptures.
Vorm; Tiendalli, Chico, Bartley, Davies; Britton (Agustien 69), de Guzman (Michu 56), Ki; Routledge (Pablo 56), Graham, Dyer.
Subs not used: Tremmel, Monk, Shechter, Rangel.
Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey (Podolski 72); Walcott, Giroud, Cazorla.
Subs not used: Martinez, Vermaelen, Santos, Coquelin, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Referee Howard Webb