Szczesny feels sorry for Reading goalkeeper Federici who gifts Arsenal FA Cup final place
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny admits he feels sorry for Adam Federici, insisting the Reading stopper was "the best player on the pitch" despite his costly error in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final.
Federici allowed Alexis Sanchez's driven shot to slip through his body in extra-time as Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners at Wembley to reach their second consecutive final, having beaten Hull to lift the trophy last year.
The mistake overshadowed a number of strong saves Federici had made to keep his side in the game and Szczesny had only kind words for his opposite number.
"He can be very proud. It only went to extra-time because the goalkeeper was magnificent," Szczesny said.
"We're very happy to go through but personally I do feel for the goalkeeper.
"It's a difficult moment for him. He was the best player on the pitch and in his dreams last night he was probably hoping he would get them through to the final.
"He did everything to do so but got very unlucky in extra-time.
"It was a really good performance from him and he's shown what a good keeper he is."
Arsenal looked like they might enjoy a comfortable afternoon when Sanchez opened the scoring in the first half, but Garath McCleary's equaliser galvanised the Championship outfit.
"You know what to expect when you play Championship sides," Szczesny said.
"They're very solid defensively, they're not scared to put their foot or head in and they defend very well.
"Today they did that with a great performance by their goalkeeper. It was a difficult game but we just got over the line."
Arsenal are now just one win away from defending the crown they secured last year, with either Liverpool or Aston Villa lying in wait in the final.
Victory would also see the Gunners become the most successful FA Cup team of all time as they currently sit level on 11 titles with Manchester United.
"We want to win for the fans," Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla added.
"It's always special to play at Wembley and we have a good opportunity to get the title.
Arsene Wenger conceded luck played a big part in deciding the result after 120 minutes against a Reading outfit fuelled with "ready to die" resilience.
"In the end we were a bit lucky because their goalkeeper made a mistake. I understand he is distraught but he kept them in the game for long periods," Wenger told reporters.
"Reading really wanted it, they were ready to die on the pitch to get to this final. We have to congratulate them for the effort they put in today."