LONDON – Arsenal forward Theo Walcott scored his landmark 100th goal for the club in a 2-0 win at Sutton United in the FA Cup on Monday as they safely negotiated the minefield of a visit to the minor league team and secured a place in the quarter-finals.
The England striker reached his century after the break, adding to a first-half strike from Lucas Pérez, as the Premier League giants were relieved to put their recent woes behind them and end the National League club’s fairytale run.
Arsene Wenger’s men, determined not to entertain the concept of a Cup giant-killing, forgot their European troubles and coped with an artificial pitch in a ramshackle south London ground to beat, but not overwhelm, the courageous fifth-tier dreamers.
Sutton had fantasized about pulling off the greatest Cup upset of all in front of 5,000 fans and hosting a sixth-round tie with fellow National League club Lincoln City, who are the first minor league side to reach the last eight in 103 years.
Yet Sutton’s chances of emulating Lincoln’s sensational win at Premier League Burnley on Saturday were effectively extinguished once Arsenal’s Spanish striker Lucas broke the deadlock in the 26th minute with a left-foot curler.
Walcott killed the tie with a slickly-worked team goal in the 55th minute but Sutton refused to bow out quietly, creating several good chances and seeing their best player, Roarie Deacon, smash a fierce shot against the bar.
It was not enough, though, to stop a slightly under-strength Arsenal side from easing towards a home date with Lincoln as they seek to win the FA Cup for a record 13th time.