Wigan Athletic 1-1 Arsenal (Arsenal win 4-2 on penalties)
Arsenal stand-in goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was the hero as Arsenal reached the FA Cup semi-final at the expense of Wigan Athletic. The Poland international, who could leave the Gunners in the summer, saved twice in the penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw across 120 minutes at Wembley.
Gary Caldwell and Jack Collison missed the opening two penalties for the Latics, leaving Santi Cazorla to slot home the winning spot-kick.
Wigan had taken the lead in the 63rd minute when Jordi Gomez coolly slotted home a penalty after Callum McManaman had been felled by Per Mertesacker inside the area.
But the German defender atoned for that error when he headed home the equaliser for the Gunners with eight minutes remaining.
The subsequent extra-time period offered up few chances, although Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck the post, while Wigan midfielder Nick Powell blazed wide after breaking clear.
Arsene Wenger gave Aaron Ramsey his first start since Boxing Day and handed Yaya Sanogo a chance to impress up front.
The Gunners took the game to Wigan in the opening stages with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looking particularly threatening against Stephen Crainey on the right flank.
And Wigan goalkeeper Scott Carson produced a fine save to deny Sanogo's header in the sixth minute.
Arsene Wenger currently looks like a man very nervous about something who is trying to appear very relaxed.— Nick Miller (@NickMiller79) April 12, 2014
But the FA Cup holders began to find their feet in the tie, and Arsenal's immediate threat appeared to be nullified as they looked for ways through the Wigan defence.
Bacary Sagna went close in the 26th minute, though, but he fired Thomas Vermaelen's flicked header over the bar after drifting in at the back post. Chances were at a premium, and the Championship side harried the Gunners at every turn.
Sagna was required at the other end to fend off Jean Beausejour as he attempted to connect with a McManaman cross.
Marc-Antoine Fortune forced a save from Lukasz Fabianski after connecting with a Josh McEachran through ball in the 38th minute.
Moments later, Lukas Podolski sent a curling free-kick wide of the Wigan goal from distance.
Sanogo broke clear in the 42nd minute, but a poor first touch by the forward allowed Carson to chase from his line to close down the angle.
In the 59th minute, McManaman made a real impact as he drew a foul by Mertesacker inside the area to earn the Latics a penalty.
Gomez was forced to wait before taking the spot-kick as Nacho Monreal received treatment, and even the substitution of Kieran Gibbs for the full-back took precedence. But the delay mattered little as the Wigan man sent the ball past Fabianski.
And the wait didn't bother him. Beautifully struck. Now what have Arsenal got?— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) April 12, 2014
The pressure was now on Wenger's team, and he withdrew Podolski for Olivier Sanogo in a bid to liven up his team.
Crainey produced a perfectly-timed challenge to cut out the threat of Sanogo in the 73rd minute, but Arsenal were up against it as they chased an equaliser. And Oxlade-Chamberlain was forced into a 30-yard effort which was easily smothered by Carson.
Carson produced a temendous save in the 82nd minute, but the resulting corner eventually led to a floated ball over the Wigan defence to Mertesacker was waiting at the far post to head home the equaliser.
Oxlade-Chamberlain went close for Arsenal in extra-time when his drive struck the post after Carson had been forced to tip over in the first period of the additional half-hour.
But chances were few and far between in the extra-time period, and a penalty shoot-out seemed inevitable.
Manchester United loanee Nick Powell broke clear in the 116th minute, but flashed his shot wide of goal.
Gary Caldwell saw his penalty saved before Mikel Arteta gave Arsenal the lead. Fabianski saved again from Jack Collison, while Kim Kallstrom slotted home to make it 2-0 in the shoot-out.
Beausejour scored with his spot-kick before Giroud slotted home to give the Gunners the edge.
James McArthur needed to score and did so, leaving Cazorla with the chance to send Arsenal to the final, which he took with ease.
Selected player ratings
Yaya Sanogo B:
Wenger clearly has faith in the young Arsenal striker, but his enthusiastic running was not matched by a genuine threat in the opening period.
Callum McManaman A:
Wigan man made his mark in their FA Cup run last season and was the main threat to the Gunners during the first period at Wembley.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain A-:
Arsenal's biggest threat during the game, but forced into long-range attempts later on as the Gunners struggled to break down Wigan.
Arsenal resume their chase for Champions League qualification when they play host to West Ham United on Tuesday.
Wigan will have an immediate return to the top flight on their minds when they play host fellow play-off hopefuls Reading in the Championship on Friday.
Wenger: "We're feeling relieved because we were under pressure but I expected a difficult game" #AFCvWAFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 12, 2014
Wenger: "Fabianski has shown what a good goalkeeper he is today. He put us in a good position in the penalty shootout" #AFCvWAFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 12, 2014
Even when we went one down I always knew we'd come back!— Aaron Ramsey (@aaronramsey) April 12, 2014
Arsenal are 1 victory away of ending a trophy drought that will be 3283 days by the time they meet Hull or Sheffield United in FA Cup final.— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) April 12, 2014