Cape Town - A rampant Arsenal joined Manchester City in the semi-finals stage of the FA Cup after a comfortable 5-0 win over non-league side Lincoln City last night.
Goals from Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey and an own goal from Liam Waterfall completed the rout as Arsenal reach the FA Cup semi-finals for the third time for four years.
The Gunners were under pressure after losing their Uefa Champions League clash 10-2 on aggregate to Bayern Munich and needed something to cheer up their supporters.
Earlier in the day, City overcame Premier League rivals Middlesbrough 2-0 at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough.
The first quarterfinal of the weekend between Aitor Karanka’s struggling side and Pep Guardiola’s attacking outfit was always likely to produce an interesting encounter, with the free-scoring Citizens up against a Boro side who simply can’t buy a goal at the moment.
And if they were hoping to rely on their usually solid defensive structure, the Teesiders found themselves up against it after being breached within three minutes.
Influential playmaker David Silva slotted home past Brad Guzan, but it could have been any one of three City players lining up for the tap-in.
It was a calamitous moment from the home side’s back four as Pablo Zabaleta was allowed too much space on the flank.
His volleyed cross into the area evaded Raheem Sterling and fell into the path of the diminutive Spaniard, who fired home from five metres.
Guardiola’s side went on to dominate possession in their usual fashion, with Yaya Touré setting the tempo in front, while Sergio Agüero was supported by Sterling, Silva, Leroy Sané and Kevin de Bruyne.
Midway through the half, Sané showed why he has been receiving widespread acclaim for his recent displays by skinning his marker, Antonio Barragán, for pace – but, in two minds about whether to square for Agüero or go for glory, the Germany international fluffed his chance.
That indecision nearly backfired when Rudy Gestede, who earned a rare start ahead of Álvaro Negredo, nearly profited from error-prone goalkeeper Claudio Bravo as he flapped at a routine corner delivery.
However, Zabaleta was at hand to spare the Chilean’s blushes with a goal line clearance.
That proved to be the last action for the towering striker as a lower-back injury curtailed his afternoon prematurely and on stepped Negredo.
Karanka’s side lived dangerously until the break, with Silva, Sterling and Touré all guilty of failing to convert their half-chances and double their advantage.
In the second 45 minutes, it was more of the same, and, 20 minutes in, Guardiola would have been wondering how the scoreline was still 1-0.
Sterling and Agüero combined well for the umpteenth time, only to see Guzan get a slight touch to deflect Agüero’s flick onto the post and out of play.
Nevertheless, the persistent Argentine wasn’t to be denied as he opened his account for the afternoon and made the game safe for a semi-final progression when Sane’s pinpoint delivery into the area was steered home for Agüero’s 24th goal of the season.
The home side had rarely threatened or made City uncomfortable as Guardiola taught his compatriot Karanka a footballing lesson.
With high expectations at the Etihad, their hard-to-please Qatari owners will no doubt be satisfied as City marched into their first semi-final in four seasons. – TEAMtalk Media