Arsenal end Lincoln's Cup adventure with 5-0 romp
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Lincoln City's fairytale FA Cup run ended at the quarter-final stage as Arsenal put aside their own problems to crush the fifth-tier side 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
It took a labouring Arsenal until first-half stoppage time to take the lead through Theo Walcott but the 12-times winners made their superiority count after the break.
Goals from Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey and an own goal from Lincoln skipper Luke Waterfall gave Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger some cheer after the midweek humiliation by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
"Recently we have disappointed our fans. We want to go again to Wembley to win," Wenger, who led Arsenal to back-to-back FA Cup triumphs in 2014 and 2015, said.
"We had a big disappointment in the Champions League. After that we have to respond and we needed players solid mentally.
"There was always a level of anxiety because these boys are unpredictable. They knocked out Burnley, Ipswich and Brighton, so we have to respect them.
"It was all us in the second half but you have to congratulate Lincoln for what they have achieved in the FA Cup."
Lincoln became the first minor league side for more than a century to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals when they knocked out top-flight Burnley in round five, having disposed of Championship outfits Ipswich Town and Brighton and Hove Albion.
The 9,000 fans they brought to north London were determined to enjoy their day and they had every reason to dream of one of the greatest Cup shocks of all time in the first half as they proved obdurate opponents.
Danny Cowley's side even threatened on occasions before eventually getting overwhelmed.
"We had a tough second half against world class players," the former P.E. teacher said. "When they scored on the edge of halftime it was always going to be difficult.
"But we're the first non-league team in over 100 years to get to the last eight of the FA Cup. We need to be proud of what we've done."
Lincoln coped well with the likes of Sanchez, Giroud and Mesut Ozil, who joined the fray early after an injury to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain although they had a slice of luck when Walcott was denied by the woodwork.
The National League leaders even went close to taking the lead when Nathan Arnold's shot was saved by Petr Cech.
It looked as though Lincoln would reach the interval on level terms but Arsenal broke through when Giroud, almost invisible in the first half, laid the ball back for Walcott whose shot deflected past Paul Farman.
Giroud side-footed Arsenal's second in the 53rd minute and shortly after any hopes of a Lincoln comeback were snuffed out when Waterfall turned Kieran Gibbs' cross into his own goal.
Free of tension it was exhibition stuff after that from Arsenal with Sanchez curling in a fourth and Ramsey walking in a fifth as Lincoln's defence crumbled.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)