A late goal by Olivier Giroud completed a second-half comeback for Arsenal as they beat Preston North End 2-1 at Deepdale.
Despite a spirited performance by PNE, they couldn’t stop the Gunners progressing to the fourth round of the FA Cup.
North End took an early lead in the first half through Callum Robinson before Aaron Ramsey equalised for the Gunners just moments into the second half.
With the match heading towards a replay, Giroud broke the hearts of the Deepdale faithful with a last-gasp goal to snatch a win for his side.
After a nervous start by both teams, the home side took an early lead. After Aiden McGeady weaved through the Arsenal defence, Jordan Hugill laid the ball off to Robinson who kept his composure to score.
The Lilywhites didn’t sit back on their lead and came close to adding a second through Robinson’s low cross that just evaded Hugill who was unmarked in the area.
Shortly after the half-hour mark, Paul Gallagher beat David Ospina with a chipped effort but it was hooked off the line by Nacho Monreal.
North End continued to be the better side and had the ball in the back of the net for a second time but the goal was disallowed for a foul by Paul Huntington on Ospina.
The Gunners came flying out of the blocks in the second half and equalised through Ramsey’s powerful shot from the edge of the box.
As the momentum swung towards Arsene Wenger’s side, they pressed for a second goal but were denied by several heroic blocks by the Preston defenders.
The visitors had a great chance through Shkodran Mustafi’s volley at the near post from a corner but Chris Maxwell produced a superb reaction save to deny the German defender.
Giroud beat Maxwell with a great volley from a looping ball but as he wheeled away in celebration the linesman raised his flag for offside.
Both managers made landmark changes late on with Daryl Horgan coming off the bench to make his debut for PNE whilst Danny Welbeck made his first appearance since May 2016.
In the dying embers of the game, Giroud who had been the pantomime villain throughout the game, broke the hearts of the Deepdale faithful with a late winner at the near post.