Arsenal swept past Villarreal 3-0 (4-1 on aggregate) at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday to book a Champions League semi-final meeting with Manchester United.
Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie were on the scoresheet as Arsene Wenger's youngsters defied their injury worries in defence to wrap up the tie within an hour.
The Spaniards had Sebastian Eguren dismissed and the hosts were able to conserve energy for their FA Cup clash against Chelsea at the weekend.
It was a fascinating clash, with Walcott almost putting the ball out of play early on when Robert Pires picked up a knock, only to carry on with the ball to set up an attack.
The 20-year-old showed his ruthless side again when he netted the opener in the 10th minute. Emmanuel Eboue slipped the ball forward from the right, Cesc Fabregas' flick allowed Walcott to run through on goal, with the England winger chipping home high over goalkeeper Diego Lopez.
The hosts were inches from adding a second goal after Van Persie's powerful free-kick was saved by Lopez. Adebayor's follow-up header got deflected on target but Gonzalo Rodriguez hacked off the line. All eyes were on the assistant referee but it would have been the tightest of calls if he had flagged for a goal.
Manuel Pellegrini's men sensed that they to apply pressure on Arsenal's makeshift defence and it meant all hands on deck for Wenger's makeshift back line.
Arsenal's best option was to counter attack. Van Persie was making runs from deep to cause Villarreal problems, with Diego Godin picking up a booking for stopping one run.
No opponent got close enough to Van Persie on the hour mark and he sent through Adebayor, who took one touch before finishing past Lopez with the outside of his boot.
The third came from Van Persie's penalty and also saw Eguran dismissed. Godin took Walcott's legs away in the penalty area but escaped a second booking for the offence. Eguran, who got a yellow card in the first half, got another caution for dissent and then disgracefully put his hands on the referee while protesting more. Van Persie kept his nerve and fired in the spot-kick.
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms