SERGIO AGUERO hit Arsenal with a late sucker-punch to send Manchester City into the Carling Cup semi-finals.
The Gunners had this by the scruff of the neck — yet blew it when Aguero slotted home after an 83rd-minute breakaway.
City boss Roberto Mancini had even been forced into the embarrassment of first-half tactical change. Yet that move came back to haunt the Gunners — as it was Aguero thrown on for Aleksander Kolorov.
And the Argy star popped up in the dying stages to send last year's beaten finalists packing. Both sets of fans paid tribute to Gary Speed with a moving minute's applause before kick-off.
Yet that goodwill was gone once this got underway — with former Gunners hero Samir Nasri jeered from the start.
Adam Johnson had the first opening after 10 minutes — only to fire just over after cutting in from the right.
Arsenal went straight back down the other end and nearly broke through. But Chu-Young Park scuffed Francis Coquelin's cross.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was giving City the runaround — and drew a first-class save from stopper Costel Pantilimon.
The Arsenal kid star leathered on from 25 yards out. And it was heading straight for the top corner until Pantilimon palmed it over.
Mancini shuffling his pack on 32 minutes — with Aguero coming on for Kolorov.
With half-time looming, City looked to have caught the hosts on the hop.
But Edin Dzeko could not pick out Nasri and the attack fizzled out.
Seconds after the restart, Yossi Benayoun had a clear shot on goal — but blew it when he mis-controlled Park's through ball.
Oxlade-Chamberlain kept up the assault and danced past Pablo Zabaleta before fizzing in a shot.
Zabaleta had a rare surge forward just before the hour but his cross was hooked wide by Dzeko.
Chamakh was the next to threaten, although the Morocco star shot wide under pressure.
Wenger tried to break the deadlock by throwing Gervinho into the mix with 20 minutes left.
Instead, it was City who sealed the tie when Aguero tucked away after great work from flying winger Adam Johnson.
Arsenal had a sighter in injury-time — but Chamakh missed out after a dangerous cross. And Arsenal, who lost so traumatically against Birmingham last season, saw another trophy hope vanish.
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