Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang once again showed his worth to Arsenal as he fired them to a record of 14th FA Cup triumph.
The striker scored twice as the Gunners fought back from a goal down against Chelsea to win 2-1 in Sunday’s final at an empty Wembley Stadium.
Chelsea had been ahead after just five minutes through Christian Pulisic.
But things went from bad to worse for Frank Lampard’s side with three injury setbacks and a red card helping hand the trophy to the Gunners.
After Pulisic’s early opener, Aubameyang leveled with a penalty kick he had won himself on 28 minutes and then brilliantly added his second midway through the second half.
Chelsea then had Mateo Kovacic sent off as they chased the game, the Croatia international picking up two bookings, with the second a controversial call from referee Anthony Taylor.
For Mikel Arteta, this was a first piece of silverware in a managerial career that only began in December and ensured Arsenal will take their place in the Europa League next season.
Aubameyang had began his evening by wasting the first chance of the final, heading wide when picked out in the box by Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Chelsea had their own opening moments later, Xhaka robbed of the ball and Mason Mount’s curling effort forcing Emiliano Martinez into an early save.
But there was nothing the Arsenal goalkeeper could do from the next Chelsea attack as Pulisic struck.
Mount broke into the penalty area and squared to Olivier Giroud, the former Arsenal man flicking the ball into the path of Pulisic, who skipped past the challenge of Kieran Tierney to become the first United States international to score in an FA Cup final.
Nicolas Pepe thought he had curled in a marvellous equaliser but his celebrations were cut short as Aubameyang had strayed offside in the build-up.
However, just seconds later and Aubameyang was played in over the top, racing clear of Azpilicueta before being hauled back by the Chelsea skipper.
Taylor opted to only caution Azpilicueta but the penalty stood following a short VAR check and Aubameyang made no mistake from the spot.
Azpilicueta would last less than five minutes longer, forced off with an injury as he made way for Andreas Christensen.Arsenal dominated the remainder of the first half without managing to test Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal.
After the break, Pulisic broke forward looking to add his second of the afternoon but instead was soon going the same way as his captain, limping off with a hamstring injury after shooting wide.
Pedro entered the fray in his place as Chelsea started to wrestle back control of the contest. That was until Aubameyang struck once again.
Hector Bellerin burst forward down the right and Christensen’s heavy challenge saw the ball break to Pepe, his pass picked up by Aubameyang who turned on to his preferred left foot to lift the ball over Caballero.
Chelsea’s task was made all the more difficult as Mateo Kovacic was sent off, shown his second yellow card for a foul on Granit Xhaka just six minutes after they had lost their lead.
While Arteta could toast his first trophy, Chelsea boss Lampard ultimately saw his side come up short.
He threw on Ross Barkley, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi despite being a man light but there was to be no comeback.
There was still time for Aubameyang to make his presence felt further after the match as the Arsenal captain dropped the trophy as he went to lift it.
His teammates saw the funny side, though, as they burst out laughing at the forward’s blunder.
FIFA wishes Osimhen best of luck at Napoli
WORLD soccer governing body FIFA, in a congratulatory message to Victor Osimhen on the conclusion of his transfer to Napoli, wished the former Golden Eaglets star good luck with the Italian Seria A clubside.
Osimhen who won the FIFA U-17 World Cup golden boot in 2015, signed for Napoli recently after a drama filled transfer for a record $82.4m with add-ons that will see the young player earning $4.7m and more in bonuses in a year.
Osimhen has become the most expensive Nigeria and African player of all time after sealing a record move to Napoli. Eclipsing the £72 million Arsenal paid to land Nicolas Pepe, who Osimhen then replaced in Lille’s attack after the Ivorian’s big-money move to the Emirates Stadium.
“From starring at the U17WC with the Golden Eaglets in 2015 to becoming @sscnapoli’s marquee signing”
“All the best in this next chapter of your career, Victor!” FIFA wrote on its official Twitter account immediately after the deal was announced. Osimhen remarked that it was a relief signing the contract after back and forth between Lille and Napoli.
“Can’t wait to put on this iconic jersey, thank you for the warm welcome @sscnapoli,” tweeted Osimhen who will wear Napoli’s number 9 shirt for the upcoming season.
Meanwhile, Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis has said that it was coach Generio Gattuso and director of football, Cristiano Giuntoli that pushed him to broke the club’s transfer record to sign Victor Osimhen from Lille to become the highest African on tranfer.
Napoli coughed out $82.4 million to land the former Golden Eaglets striker. Napoli most expensive player was Goonzalo Higuaín, who cost $45.9m million when he was signed from Real Madrid in July 2013.
Laurentiis said on the transfer: “Gattuso and Giuntoli both wanted him, and they convinced me to part with $82.4m.
“With bonuses it can rise to $94.1m, and if you consider the wages which rise over the course of the deal overall this is a $117.1m+ deal.
“He is not a player we are expecting to be ready right away. He is not a 25-30 goal scorer, but he should bring an extra element of great play to the team, scoring and providing for his teammates”.
Despite Victor Osimhen’s record deal to Napoli, Odion Ighalo remains the highest earning Nigerian and African player. Ighalo stay is still questionable at Manchester United. The on-loan Shanghai Shenhua striker currently earns a whopping £125,000 weekly at Old Trafford.
Ighalo may quit Man U in January
Manchester United loanee, Odion Ighalo, is likely to return to his parent club Shanghai Shenhua when his contract expires with the Premier League giants in January.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to reports, has chosen Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland as replacement for the the Nigerian.
Solskjaer, a huge fan of his compatriot, wanted to sign the Norway international having seen him shine at Red Bull Salzburg, scoring 28 goals from 22 appearances.
The United manager and Ed Woodward both jetted out to Austria to sit down for talks with the striker, who insisted he’d chosen Old Trafford as his next destination.
In the end, however, the Red Devils were rocked.
Haaland opted to leave Salzburg for Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund instead, with the German giants agreeing to agent Mino Raiola’s lucrative demands.
Many saw it as a blow to United.
But Solsjaer didn’t seem too bothered when asked about the forward, smiling away and saying: “Well, Dortmund have signed a fantastic boy, I can’t answer more than that.”
And admiration for the striker certainly remains.
United haven’t cooled their interest in the 20-year-old altogether, with Solskjaer still hoping to one day bring him to Old Trafford.
And United will likely be in the race to secure his signature, with Solskjaer unwilling to let the past get in the way of improving his side. Haaland has been terrific in Germany, scoring 16 goals from 18 appearances in the short time since his move to the country.
And United may be biding their time before waiting to go for the youngster.