Didier Drogba beat Lukasz Fabianski to score the winner six minutes from time, as Chelsea became the first team to book themselves a place in next month’s FA Cup final with a 2-1 win over Arsenal at Wembley.
Theo Walcott had given The Gunners an 18th-minute lead, but Chelsea leveled through Florent Malouda 33 minutes in before Drogba set up the showpiece meeting with either Manchester United or Everton.
Wembley has history with Polish goalkeepers, but, unlike Jan Tomaszewski against England in 1973, Lukasz Fabianski failed to cover himself in glory on the turf, traditionally hallowed, but
Fabianski, who 'celebrated' his 24th birthday on Saturday, will remember the day with an absence of fondness. He looked unsure from the get-go and was directly responsible for both of Chelsea’s goals.
Just four minutes had been played when the keeper made his first error, coming out to the edge of his area to pre-empt an attack from Drogba when he had two defenders already handily placed to deal with the Ivorian.
Drogba got to the ball first and headed goalwards, only to watch on as Kieran Gibbs got back to clear the ball from the goalline.
Gibbs was equally instrumental in the move that gave Arsenal the lead in the 18th minute. Emmanuel Adebayor ushered the left back to the goalline and the young Englishman crossed for Walcott.
The England international's scuffed volley deflected off the hand of Ashley Cole to send the ball agonizingly beyond the grounded Petr Cech.
Cole’s involvement in Arsenal taking the lead will have given perverse enjoyment to The Gunners, not that their team were ever able to rest on their laurels, particularly with Fabianski so unconvincing.
Malouda's cross-shot squirmed underneath the keeper, but, fortunately for The Gunners, the ball skidded wide of the goal, before the Frenchman and the Pole, inadvertently, combined for the equalizer.
From John Terry’s pass from the halfway line, Malouda brought the ball under control before turning inside Emmanuel Eboue and hitting a shot that beat Fabianski at his near post.
Denilson and Abou Diaby were then guilty of playing too much football inside their own area. Nicolas Anelka nipped in, but shot against the foot of the post.
With Wembley’s turf in increasing disarray, it was Chelsea who were on a surer footing.
Frank Lampard dispossessed Denilson in dangerous territory, but Arsenal regrouped to clear the danger after Anelka had been set free by the intermediary of Michael Essien.
With Chelsea beginning to dictate play more and more as the second half progressed, Arsenal had to content themselves with opportunities on the break.
The Gunners' right-hand side was always their most likely avenue to another goal. The willing, but rarely wily, running of Theo Walcott was a direct threat but, as with the cross that he overhit when Robin van Persie was free at the back post, the end product was often lacking.
Chelsea’s fans appealed for a penalty when Mikael Silvestre, in tussling with Drogba, appeared to push the ball with his hand and then Lampard volleyed wide from Drogba’s cut back.
Arsenal’s increasing frustration was tangible when Denilson, after conceding a free-kick for a foul on Lampard, ran towards the referee Martin Atkinson, pushing the official in the chest. The Gunners midfielder was fortunate to receive only a yellow card for such an unwise indiscretion.
Andrei Arshavin made his belated bow a quarter of an hour from time when Van Persie was withdrawn, while Guus Hiddink showed his hand for the final 10 minutes, introducing Salomon Kalou for Nicolas Anelka.
Eyebrows were raised too when Wenger decided to replace Emmanuel Adebayor with Nicklas Bendtner.
Chelsea’s eyes were lit up just seconds later when Drogba capitalized on more indecision from Fabianski, racing on to a long ball forward from Lampard that had caught Arsenal’s defense napping, the Ivorian rounded the Pole who had come out of his area to shoot into an empty net.
Arshavin’s passing prompted a late Arsenal rally, but three minutes of additional time came and went and the final whistle was confirmation of Hiddink’s side taking another giant step towards a major trophy under the Dutchman's astute tutelage.
For Fabianski, his predecessor of 26 years, Tomaszewski, came to Wembley as a 'clown' and left the national football stadium an unexpected hero, but, on Saturday, the opposite was the case.