Arsenal sauntered into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup courtesy of an Olivier Giroud brace in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners controlled proceedings from start to finish, with the Championship side unable to replicate their heroics of the last round against Manchester City.
Giroud tapped in the opener after 27 minutes after great work from captain for the day Santi Cazarla and Kieron Gibbs to settle any early nerves.
And just two minutes later, the French hitman doubled his and Arsenal’s tally with a sublime flick at the near post.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Boro, who were caught napping at the back for Giroud’s second.
Other than a last minute Kike header which came back off the post, the second half was a mere procession, with the Gunners having several chances to increase their lead, and the holders sailed comfortably through to the last eight.
27’ - GOAL! Arsenal 1 Middlesbrough 0. It has been coming. Wonderful, flowing move. Cazorla threads a lovely ball through to Gibbs on the run, who pulls it back for Giroud to tap home. As intricate as ever from the Gunners.
29’ - GOAL! Arsenal 2 Middlesbrough 0. What a finish from Giroud! A contentious corner is whipped in, and the French hitman gets across his marker to flick a volley past a helpless Mejias to double the Gunners' lead.
39’ - SAVE! Finally the visitors have a shot at goal! Adomah carries the ball forward well, at pace, but Wojciech Szczesny is down well to smother. Routine stop, but at least it was on target.
64’ - SAVE! Tremendous stop from Mejias, who flings himself to his left to tip a Sanchez header wide. Was at full stretch and had very little time to react. Superb.
76’ - CHANCE! Another swift Arsenal counter attack. Ball is worked well to Cazorla, on the edge of the box, but the Spaniard blazes over disappointingly.
90+2’ - POST! We nearly had a very interesting finale here. Kike's header beats Szczesny but comes back of the post. Looked like it was going in, but agonisingly close for the visitors.
Mesut Ozil created seven goalscoring chances v Middlesbrough, more than any other player in the FA Cup this weekend.
Arsenal are through to the FA Cup quarter-final for the 11th time under Arsene Wenger. They have progressed to the semi-final in nine of the previous 10.
Olivier Giroud has now scored seven goals and assisted four more in his 11 FA Cup appearances.
Are Arsenal on their way to retaining the cup? Middlesbrough represented no pushovers, but the Gunners easily disposed of the Championship high flyers at the Emirates. Should Arsene Wenger’s men rightly be regarded as the team to avoid in the quarter-final?
MAN OF THE MATCH Olivier Giroud: Close between him and Santi Cazorla, but the Frenchman edges it after two fantastic finishes ended up being the difference between the two sides this afternoon. The second was especially superb, using the pace of the ball to devastating effect. Always a threat, and with such service coming from behind, he can really kick on for the rest of the season.
Arsenal: Szczesny 6, Gibbs 7, Gabriel 6, Koscielny 6, Chambers 6, Cazorla 9, Flamini 7, Sanchez 7, Ozil 6, Welbeck 7, Giroud 9… SUBS: Walcott 6, Rosicky 6, Akpom 6.
Middlesbrough: Mejias 7, Fredericks 6, Omeruo 7, Gibson 6, Friend 6, Clayton 5, Leadbitter 6, Adomah 6, Tomlin 5, Bamford 5, Kike 6… SUBS: Reach 6, Vossen 6.