Eddie Nketiah scored a hat-trick as Arsenal eased past Sunderland at the Emirates to progress to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.
The Gunners made nine changes from their 4-1 win over Leeds at the weekend with out-of-favour striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang again left out of the matchday squad.
Goals from Nketiah and Nicolas Pepe put Arsenal two ahead in the first half before Nathan Broadhead pulled one back for the visitors.
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An Nketiah double after the break completed an impressive hat-trick and put the game out of Sunderland’s reach. Academy prospect Charlie Patino added a late fifth after coming on for his first-team debut.
The Gunners progress to the semi-finals of a competition they have not won since 1993 and will discover their next opponents when the draw takes place on Wednesday.
Sunderland started impressively at the Emirates, pressing with intensity and showing signs of the quality that has seen them climb to third place in League One under manager Lee Johnson, but Arsenal soon came close to going in front when Elliot Embleton deflected a Nuno Tavares cross onto his own crossbar.
Nketiah scored the hosts’ first shortly after, poking in from close range after Rob Holding’s header was saved by goalkeeper Lee Burge, and Pepe doubled their lead by finishing off a one-two with Cedric Soares on the wing, his deflected effort nestling in the top corner.
Sunderland responded quickly through Broadhead, who ran onto a well-timed through ball from Embleton and dinked over the onrushing Bernd Leno to make it 2-1 before the break.
Nketiah made it 3-1 after half-time with an intelligent finish in the six-yard area, and then sealed his hat-trick shortly after with the best goal of the night.
Pepe started the move, nutmegging Denver Hume – the first of two successful nutmegs – and feeding Nketiah in the middle, who flicked the ball behind his own standing leg and past Burge.
Perhaps the evening's biggest cheer came when 18-year-old debutant Patino scored in injury-time not long after coming on, finishing neatly from ten yards after Pepe found him with another fizzed ball into the box.
Sunderland had their chances – Embleton saw a long-range curling effort brush the outside of the post – but Mikel Arteta’s side won comfortably in the end and progress to the last four.

TALKING POINT - NKETIAH MAKES HIS MARK

Nketiah continued his prolific form in the Carabao Cup and has now scored five goals in just three games in the competition this season. He is surely in contention to break into Mikel Arteta’s regular starting XI in the Premier League with Aubameyang out of favour and being linked with a move to Barcelona in January.
The 22-year-old scored all three of his goals against Sunderland from inside the six-yard box, making intelligent runs and showcasing exceptional skill to net his third through his own legs.
He has played just 38 Premier League minutes this season and there are reports he has rejected a new contract with the Gunners. As is stands, his contract up in the summer and he could leave on a free transfer.
On another night, academy wonderkid Patino would have stolen the headlines with his fantastic debut goal. Arsenal fans are understandably extremely excited about the English youngster and what the future may hold for him.

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Image credit: Getty Images

MAN OF THE MATCH

Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal). Who else? The forward was sensational throughout and fully deserving of taking home the match ball. He has certainly given Arteta something to think about in terms of team selection ahead of Arsenal’s visit to Norwich in the league on Boxing Day. He dazzled with a poacher’s hat-trick - all three goals in the six-yard area – with a brilliant flicked finish to round it off.

PLAYER RATINGS

ARSENAL: Leno 6, Cedric 8, White 7, Holding 8, Tavares 7, Elneny 6, Odegaard 7, Smith Rowe 7, Pepe 8, Nketiah 9, Balogun 6... Subs: Gabriel 7, Xhaka 6, Patino 8, Martinelli 6.
SUNDERLAND: Burge 5, Winchester 6, Wright 4, Flanagan 5, Doyle 5, Gooch 5, Embleton 6, Neil 5, Pritchard 7, Broadhead 7, Stewart 6... Subs: Evans 4, O'Brien 5, Hume 4, Kimpioka 5
KEY MOMENTS
17' GOAL! ARSENAL 1-0 SUNDERLAND - Sunderland dealt with that free-kick - it was head out for a corner...But the hosts are ahead through Eddie Nketiah who pokes in a rebound after Rob Holding's header was saved after the in-swinging corner. Arsenal lead.
27' - GOAL! ARSENAL 2-0 SUNDERLAND: It's a second for the Gunners as Cedric gets down the right and passes into the box for Pepe. He hits a shot that deflects in off Doyle.
31' - GOAL! ARSENAL 2-1 SUNDERLAND: Game on? Sunderland break and Embleton plays through for Broadhead. He has timed his run perfectly and clips over Leno to pull one back for the visitors
49' - GOAL! ARSENAL 3-1 SUNDERLAND: Eddie Nketiah is just immense in the penalty area. It's a great ball in to the area from Tavares and Nketiah is switched on, it's a lovely finish with the outside of his foot to make it 3-1.
58' - GOAL! ARSENAL 4-1 SUNDERLAND: Hat-trick for Nketiah! Fantastic team goal from the Gunners. Odegaard splits the defence to find Pepe, he nutmegs a defender, Nketiah receives it and it's a brilliant finish from six yards.
90+1 - GOAL! ARSENAL 5-1 SUNDERLAND: What a moment for the teenager Patino! His first ever appearance for Arsenal and he's scored, the crowd erupts. He slots into the bottom corner after Pepe finds him in he box.

KEY STATS

  • Eddie Nketiah has completed the first hat-trick of his senior club career
  • Arsenal conceded at home for the first time since October 22nd, ending a run of five consecutive clean sheets at the Emirates.
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