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Arsenal end Sutton's fairy-tale FA Cup run

Associated Press logo Associated Press 20/02/2017 ROB HARRIS

Relief for Arsenal, pride for Sutton United.

On the plastic patch at tiny Gander Green Lane stadium, the gulf in class between teams separated by 105 places in the English soccer pyramid was not always apparent.

Arsenal weren't simply allowed to stroll into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup by their fifth-tier hosts playing the biggest game in their 118-year history.

The Gunners took 26 minutes to break through the dogged resistance before winning 2-0 on Monday, with goals from Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott.

"If you are 2-0 down you don't want to get really hurt," Sutton manager Paul Doswell said. "The players should feel very proud. The problem in sport is when you have lost, you feel disappointed but they put this club on a worldwide map."

Apart from picking the ball out of his net twice, Sutton goalkeeper Ross Worner, a part-time picture framer for a sports memorabilia company who supports Arsenal, had few saves to make in front of 5000 standing fans.

Defeat would have been unthinkable for Arsene Wenger following a 5-1 loss at Bayern Munich in the Champions League which cast fresh doubt on the Arsenal manager's future.

"It was not an easy game at all - every little mistake we made, technically they took advantage of," Wenger said.

"I don't really enjoy tonight because we absolutely had to do the job and it is tricky. It is important for the confidence of the players.

"That was astonishing. They never stopped going until the end, and compared to 20 years ago these teams are fit now and can play at the pace of the Premier League."

Sutton, placed 17th in the National League, were mobbed by their fans who invaded the field, having completed the game with their dignity more than intact.

Far from sitting camped inside its own half to frustrate Arsenal, Sutton ensured goalkeeper David Ospina would have to remain constantly alert.

Only the crossbar denied Roarie Deacon, a former Arsenal youth team player, and captain Jamie Collins, a part-time construction worker, angled his header from a corner just too high.

Perhaps the greatest tribute to Sutton's tenacity was Wenger bringing top-scorer Alexis Sanchez on in the second half.

"When I looked at my lads at 70 minutes and Sanchez has come on, it was a wonderful thing," Doswell said. "But I knew how tired they were. It was quite a cruel thing to do."

Wenger said: "We could not afford a light team selection and that is why I came with basically all the players who were available because we couldn't afford to go out."

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