Watford knock out titleholders Arsenal to reach semifinals

Published Mar. 13, 2016 11:20 a.m. ET

MANCHESTER, England --

Arsenal's bid to capture a third straight FA Cup title ended with a 2-1 loss to Watford in the quarterfinals on Sunday, dashing its best chance of winning silverware this season.

Odion Ighalo and Adlene Guedioura -- with a fiercely struck shot from the edge of the area -- scored second-half goals for Watford, which joined Crystal Palace and Everton in an unlikely lineup for the semifinals at Wembley Stadium.

Manchester United hosts West Ham in the fourth quarterfinal match later Sunday.

It was the worst possible start to a make-or-break week in Arsenal's season. The north London team is 2-0 down heading into the second leg of its Champions League last-16 match against Barcelona on Wednesday, before it heads to Everton in the Premier League for what could be a must-win game in its fading title challenge.

Danny Welbeck reduced the deficit for Arsenal in the 88th minute and Watford only just hung on, with Alex Iwobi striking the post from long range before Welbeck scooped a follow-up effort over the bar.

Arsenal played a full-strength lineup -- an indication of Wenger's priorities ahead of the Barcelona game -- but an attack featuring Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud struggled to cause Watford's defense many problems before a late flurry of chances.


Arsenal has now won just one game in its last seven in a familiar early-spring collapse, with the pressure starting to grow on Wenger.

Arsenal had been looking to become first team in 30 years to win the FA Cup for three straight years.

Ighalo opened the scoring in the 50th when he received a flick-on from strike partner Troy Deeney, evaded marker Gabriel and tucked a finish from eight meters into to the bottom corner.

Guedioura made it 2-0 by smashing an angled drive into the roof of net, inside David Ospina's near post, from Ighalo's lay-off.

Watford reached the FA Cup semifinals for the sixth time in its history.