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Sokratis, Nketiah send Arsenal to quarters

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 02/03/2020 skysports.com
a group of people in yellow shirts: Eddie Nketiah with team-mates after he put Arsenal 2-0 up © Getty Eddie Nketiah with team-mates after he put Arsenal 2-0 up

Goals from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Eddie Nketiah either side of half-time sent Arsenal through to the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 2-0 win at Portsmouth.

Arsenal were fortunate to go into the break a goal up, and it came from an unlikely source as Sokratis controlled a volley into the bottom corner from Reiss Nelson's dangerous cross (45+4).

Nelson created the second shortly after the break, taking on his man on the right before delivering for Nketiah to bundle home from close range (51).

Arsenal are now in the quarter-finals for the first time in three seasons, with the last-eight draw taking place on Wednesday evening.

How Arsenal made safe passage

Arsenal made nine changes in total, including giving January capture Pablo Mari a debut at centre-back, but Portsmouth themselves also rung the changes, making six having played on Friday evening.

Eddie Nketiah (R) celebrates scoring Arsenal's second © Getty Eddie Nketiah (R) celebrates scoring Arsenal's second Kenny Jackett's side started the stronger, forcing Arsenal into some desperate last-ditch defending, and registering eight shots on the opposition goal in the first half, but without testing Emiliano Martinez.

Lucas Torreira was taken off on a stretcher with a worrying ankle injury, replaced by Dani Ceballos, and Arsenal should have taken the lead with Gabriele Martinelli struck over at close range from a good Nelson centre.

Lucas Torreira before he is carried off on a stretcher in the first half © Getty Lucas Torreira before he is carried off on a stretcher in the first half Nelson tried again during first-half stoppage time from the right flank, and this time it resulted in the opener as his superb, whipped delivery was met by Sokratis 10 yards out, the defender placing a fine volley into the bottom right corner.

Nelson was causing problems again six minutes into the second half, easing his way past Steve Seddon before crossing for Nketiah, who netted at the second attempt after not quite connecting with his first effort.

a group of football players on a field: Sokratis Papastathopoulos opened the scoring at Fratton Park © Getty Sokratis Papastathopoulos opened the scoring at Fratton Park Arsenal loosened up further and looked for a third, but goalkeeper Alex Bass did superbly to tip over Bukayo Saka's left-footed swinging effort.

At the end of the game, Portsmouth were singing about their own trip to Wembley for the Leasing.com Trophy final against Salford in April, but for Arsenal, this competition represents their only chance for silverware this season as Mikel Arteta looks to bring success back to the Emirates.

Opta stats

Arsenal have reached the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup in five of the last seven seasons and for the first time since 2016-17, going on to win the competition that season.

Portsmouth haven't beaten Arsenal in any competition since winning a league match 5-4 in March 1958, drawing eight and losing 14 of their 22 meetings since then.

Arsenal have gone 11 games without defeat away from home in all competitions since a 2-0 loss at Leicester in Unai Emery's last away game in charge of the club (W4 D7) - the Gunners' longest unbeaten run on the road since March-December 2016 (a run of 15).

Sokratis has scored with all three of his shots on target for Arsenal this season.

What's next?

Arsenal now host West Ham in the Premier League at 3pm on Saturday, while Portsmouth are at Peterborough in League One, also on Saturday at 3pm. The quarter-final draw will take place on Wednesday evening at around 9.50pm.

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