Eddie Nketiah's hat-trick powered Arsenal into the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup with a 5-1 victory over Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Gunners started brightly and they almost went in front in bizarre circumstances in the 11th minute when Nuno Tavares' cut-back was deflected onto the crossbar by Sunderland midfielder Elliot Embleton.
It was just five minutes later when Mikel Arteta's side did go ahead, however, as Nketiah showed his predatory instinct from a corner. As Rob Holding rose highest from Cedric Soares' delivery, his header was palmed invitingly into the path of the Arsenal forward and he bundled the ball over the line.
The highly-rated Folarin Balogun then went close on two ocassions, heading a Cedric cross wide at the far post before shooting straight at Sunderland goalkeeper Lee Burge after being teed up by Emile Smith Rowe on the edge of the area.
Arsenal doubled their advantage on 26 minutes after a well-worked move down the right-hand side. Nicolas Pepe and Cedric combined effectively before the Ivorian swept the Portuguese's pull-back into the roof of the net via a deflection off of Callum Doyle.
However, the Black Cats clawed their way back into the contest almost immediately. Alex Pritchard - the standout for Lee Johnson's side - sprung his side forward and when Nathan Broadhead was sent through by Embleton he nonchalantly dinked his finish over the onrushing Bernd Leno.
Smith Rowe then stung the palms of the Sunderland goalkeeper with a rasping volley on the stroke of half-time, before Arsenal restored their two-goal advantage upon the resumption of the second half.
Tavares won his battle down the left-hand side and, after fizzing the ball across goal, Nketiah was on hand to grab his second of the evening with a clever finish across the front post.
The 22-year-old then grabbed his hat-trick to continue his remarkable Carabao Cup scoring streak. Pepe did extremely well to evade the attentions of Denver Hume with a cheeky nutmeg before pulling the ball back into the path of Nketiah, who deftly flicked the ball beyond Burge in the Sunderland goal.
Martin Odegaard threatened a fifth of the evening for the home side when his free kick whistled just past the post, before the Emirates crowd was brought to its feet when 18-year-old academy graduate Charlie Patino was handed his Gunners debut with just over ten minutes to play.
The midfielder marked the moment by adding Arsenal's fifth in stoppage time, arriving in the penalty box to stroke Pepe's cut-back into the bottom corner.
Here's how the Gunners rated...
ARSENAL PLAYER RATINGS
1. Goalkeeper & defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) - 5/10 - Could have perhaps done better to prevent Sunderland's equaliser but he was left horribly exposed by poor defending.
Cedric Soares (RB) - 7/10 - A constant threat down the right-hand side and delivering quality with his crosses.
Rob Holding (CB) - 6/10 - A strong performance, commanding his penalty box well and putting his body on the line when required.
Ben White (CB) - 4/10 - Caught on a few instances trying to bring the ball out of defence.
Nuno Tavares (LB) - 6/10 - Erratic, not quite looking as composed on the ball as he has been for Arsenal this season, but he did well to service Nketiah for his hat-trick.
Mohamed Elneny (CM) - 5/10 - His energy at the base of the Arsenal midfield ensured his side never became complacent.
Martin Odegaard (AM) - 8/10 - Made Arsenal tick throughout, constantly demanding the ball in the tightest of areas.
Emile Smith Rowe (AM) - 6/10 - Showcased his tremendous technique on a few occasions, but endured one of his quieter performances.
Nicolas Pepe (RW) - 8/10 - Linked extremely well with Cedric down the right-hand side and gave Denver Hume a torrid time in the second half.
Eddie Nketiah (ST) - 10/10 - Hat-trick hero, showcasing his supreme poacher's instinct.
Folarin Balogun (LW) - 5/10 - Had a flew sightings at goal, but didn't look comfortable in his role off the left.
Granit Xhaka (CM) - 6/10 - Replaced Balogun who had just been booked.
Gabriel (CB) - N/A
Gabriel Martinelli (LW) - N/A
Charlie Patino (CM) - 7/10 - Marked his debut with a well-taken goal in stoppage time.