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Wilshere & Rooney make the difference for sides

ESPN staff
January 16, 2013

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Goals from Jack Wilshere and Wayne Rooney were sufficient as Arsenal and Manchester United both secured 1-0 home wins to move into the fourth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday.

Jack Wilshere scored in the 86th minute as Arsenal belatedly made their dominance count to defeat Swansea City 1-0 and move into the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Wilshere, the best player during the contest by some distance, burst between the Swansea defence with five minutes remaining to lash a first-time half-volley beyond the previously resolute Michel Vorm and book an away meeting with Brighton.

The Gunners were much improved from the lacklustre 2-0 Barclays Premier League defeat to Manchester City on Sunday and, but for a combination of poor finishing and brilliant defending, would have had this replay wrapped up well before Wilshere's fine late effort.

With France striker Olivier Giroud returned to the starting line-up and England forward Theo Walcott switched back to the right flank, Arsenal opened up full of the kind of movement which had been lacking against City.

But the visitors almost snatched the lead after 26 minutes when Wayne Routledge whipped the ball in from the left and former Gunner Kyle Bartley got above the static Arsenal defence to crash a header off the crossbar.

Then, in first-half stoppage time, Walcott's corner rebounded back to Vermaelen in the six-yard box and his shot was booted off the line by Vorm.

Arsenal started the second half with intent and felt they should have been awarded a penalty after Walcott raced through onto Abou Diaby's pass. The England forward got ahead of Chico and looked to have been nudged in the back as he shaped to shoot, dragging his shot wide. However, referee Mark Clattenburg was unimpressed and pointed for a goal-kick.

Slowly the Arsenal fans inside the crowd - with 58,359 given as the 'tickets sold' figure - cranked up the temperature as Giroud flashed a header across the face of goal from a corner.

Wilshere's shot was then blocked by Vorm and Walcott's rebound was kept out by Graham on the line with the Arsenal striker claiming handball, but this time Clattenburg called it right.

Arsenal then saw another goalbound effort, this time from Giroud, headed out by Leon Britton.

It looked a goal would never come when Walcott, with less than ten minutes remaining, failed to connect with Sagna's deep cross as it bounced back off the inside of the far post - but Vorm was eventually beaten with just four minutes to go when Giroud touched the ball off to Wilshere at the edge of the area and he lashed a left-foot shot into the back of the net.

Rooney, meanwhile, needed just eight minutes to get the opener for Manchester United against West Ham - and a late missed penalty did not prove costly as Sir Alex Ferguson's side closed out a relatively comfortable win at Old Trafford.

After being out of action ever since Christmas Day, Rooney took just eight minutes to get on the scoresheet - turning into an open goal from Javier Hernandez's selfless lay-off.

It was Rooney's ninth goal of the season and extended a purple patch that began prior to his injury, since when Robin van Persie, Hernandez and Danny Welbeck have all impressed, underlining the strength within Sir Alex Ferguson's striking department.

Another of the men returning from injury, Anderson, provided the slide-rule pass for Hernandez to set up Rooney. He also set up Nani, whose volley was curling in at the far post before it was brilliantly cleared off the line by Daniel Potts.

As time went on, Chris Smalling had a header saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen and Alexander Buttner's low cross struck a post as the pressure intensified - before Jaaskelainen was also called on to deny Rooney with a smart low save to his right.

It enabled West Ham to reach half-time still in contention, and Sam Allardyce to inject some much-needed self-belief.

They might have had a chance to equalise pretty quickly too, only for Rafael to escape a handball appeal thanks to the sympathy shown by referee Phil Dowd.

Hernandez blazed a good chance over at the other end but the game was being controlled by the visitors, ensuring Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, United's 13th different central defensive combination of the campaign, were fully extended.

United were fortunate Rafael was in the right place to prevent Matt Taylor's square ball reaching Ricardo Vaz Te.

Taylor then curled an excellent chance over before Smalling managed to nick the ball away from Kevin Nolan just as the Hammers substitute was about to shoot from close range.

The hosts should have sealed their fourth-round spot after Jordan Spence handled Giggs' cross. Rooney, though, blazed over, the effort sailing so high neither he nor his manager looked like they could quite believe it.

Something that definitely was believable was the woeful late tackle that earned Paul Scholes a booking as he flew in late on Taylor - not that it affected the outcome at all.

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