Wigan were just eight minutes away from a second FA Cup final but ultimately succumbed 4-2 to Arsenal in the penalty shoot out.
Wigan took the lead through a Jordi Gomez penalty on 62 minutes after Callum McManaman had been brought down, but the Gunners equalised with eight minutes of normal time remaining when Per Mertesacker scored from close range.
Despite chances at both ends no further goals were scored in extra time and the match went to penalties. Mikel Arteta, Kim Kallstrom and Olivier Giroud were all on target for Arsenal – while James McArthur and Jean Beausejour scored for Wigan – leaving Santi Cazorla to send a relieved Gunners through.
Like in previous FA Cup ties Wigan were once again the underdogs but performed admirably against supposedly superior opposition. Latics matched Arsenal in most areas of the pitch with James McArthur, Jordi Gomez and Callum McManaman in particular producing stand out displays.
Arsenal were the first to show and Scott Carson saved well from a Yaya Sanogo header but Wigan were not overawed. With Callum McManaman at his best and tormenting Nacho Monreal, Wigan looked like they could overcome the less than impressive Gunners.
On 63 minutes McManaman was the key to Wigan going ahead when he was brought down by Mertesacker as he weaved across the Gunners area.
There was an injury to Monreal, which meant a four-minute delay before Gomez could take his kick, but he showed impeccable calmness to beat Fabianski from the spot.
An increasingly agitated and under pressure Arsene Wenger replaced Lukas Podolski with Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal surged forward in search of an equaliser.
Sagna headed against the post and Carson saved superbly from substitute Kieron Gibbs before on 82 minutes Mertesacker got on the end of a miscued shot by Gibbs to draw Arsenal level.
The match ended level and although Arsenal had more possession in extra time, Wigan always looked capable of snatching something on the break. Substitute Nick Powell surged forward on one such counter attack and outpaced several Arsenal defenders before disappointingly firing wide of the target.
Latics biggest scare came when Oxlade-Chamberlain’s powerful shot crashed against the angle of post and bar with Carson beaten.
Then came the penalties. Perhaps the biggest surprise and disappointment for Latics fans was that substitute Gary Caldwell was chosen as the first penalty taker. Caldwell had not played a first team game since being injured last season and it was important Wigan got off to a good start.
Gomez who had already scored a penalty was the obvious choice to take the first spot kick, but was held back for later. The decision was to prove crucial as Caldwell’s low kick was easily saved by Fabianski.
Mikel Arteta scored comfortably for the Londoners before loanee Jack Collison stepped up for Latics and Fabianski once again saved.
Substitute Kim Källström converted for the Gunners and so did Jean Beausejour for Latics.
Olivier Giroud then scored and so did James McArthur before Santi Cazorla converted to send the ecstatic Gunners through to the final.