Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised his side’s resilience after they beat Wigan Athletic on penalties to reach The FA Cup Final.
Without a trophy for nine years and trailing to Jordi Gomez’s 63rd-minute spot-kick, the Frenchman says all the pressure was on the Gunners at Wembley and he was pleased with the way they responded.
Per Mertesacker headed a late equaliser and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski saved two penalties during the shoot-out, from Gary Caldwell and Jack Collison, to help guide Arsenal to the showpiece match on Saturday 17 May.
Wigan 1-1 Arsenal (2-4 on pens)
The FA Cup with Budweiser
Saturday 12 April
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
Wenger said: "I’m relieved because we were under big pressure.
"I expected a difficult game and I wasn’t disappointed. Wigan were impressive; very organised, physically very strong, calm when they had the ball and they showed why they knocked Manchester City out in the quarter final.
"We needed to show some character, resilience and some nerves and we did it in a very united way.
"It was a Cup game and the difference between winning and losing is very, very small and this game showed that again. Even if we had have lost I would have said we were at the mental level I expected.
"Hopefully that win today will give us a lift [until] the end of the season. "We have a target now – The FA Cup Final."
Wenger saved a final word of praise for the Polish goalkeeper.
He added: "He did very well. He’s a good goalkeeper and he showed that again today. Even on the penalty they scored he went the right side.
"He put us in a quite a comfortable position [during the shootout]."
Uwe Rosler cut a passionate figure on the sideline
Meanwhile, Latics boss Uwe Rosler said he was proud of his charges’ performance against the Premier League outfit as The FA Cup holders came agonisingly close to a second successive Final.
The German said: "I couldn’t ask for any more than what they’ve given me, not only today but since I walked through the door at the football club.
"Today we faced Arsenal, one of the top teams in the country, and we did very well.
Watch pitchside highlights of the game
"We had to make a few substitutions too early and unfortunately we couldn’t hold out. We forced Arsenal to play long in the second half. All credit to my boys. We still looked to counter and attack them when we could.
"I’m absolutely proud of how they performed and what they put in.
"We have to recover. We’ll be walking out of Wembley on paper as losers but in our minds as winners."