A first-half goal from Paul Scholes ended Arsenal FC's hopes of a third successive victory in the FA Cup and secured Manchester United FC a narrow 1-0 win in the semi-final at Villa Park this afternoon.
Arsène Wenger's side, who meet Chelsea FC in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg at Highbury on Tuesday night, were aiming for a fourth consecutive final and a third successive win in the competition.
Both sides were without their talismanic strikers, with Arsenal's Thierry Henry named among the substitutes while Ruud van Nistelrooij missed out with a knee injury.
Arsenal began brightly, and might have gone ahead inside the opening exchanges, with Dennis Bergkamp racing clear only to be denied by United goalkeeper Roy Carroll and Wes Brown heading the Dutch forward's second effort off the line.
Moments later, a corner broke for Edu on the edge of the penalty area and the Brazilian's astute chip beat Carroll but bounced off the crossbar, and the United goalkeeper reacted quickly to keep out Kolo Touré's follow-up header.
The game continued in open fashion and Robert Pires put a free header over the bar, but it was United who struck first in the 32nd minute. Gary Neville's perceptive through-ball set Ryan Giggs clear on the right of the Arsenal area, and from the Welsh winger's cut-back, Scholes was on hand to score what proved to be the winning goal.
Arsenal came close to drawing level second before half-time as a free-kick was curled into the penalty area and Patrick Vieira's challenge on Roy Keane deflected the ball on to the post with Carroll once more a spectator.
Despite a flurry of attacking changes, including the introductions of attacking trio Henry, José Antonio Reyes and Nwankwo Kanu, Arsenal struggled to create chances after half-time and United held on. Sir Alex Ferguson's team will play Sunderland AFC or Millwall FC in the final, with the first division sides meeting in the second semi-final on Sunday.
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