Rampant United crush Gunners
United march into quarter-finals with 4-0 win
Last Updated: 17/02/08 8:48am
Rooney is congratulated after opening the scoring
Manchester United were in inspired form as they destroyed Arsenal 4-0 at Old Trafford to advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
The Gunners may have opened up a five-point lead in the Premier League but they were completely outplayed as United raced into a 3-0 lead at half-time.
Wayne Rooney, who produced a dazzling display up front, headed United in front after 16 minutes and Darren Fletcher got in front of William Gallas to nod in Nani's excellent cross four minutes later.
Nani added a third with a powerful finish on 38 minutes and things went from bad to worse for Arsenal after the break as Emmanuel Eboue was sent off for a kick on Patrice Evra.
Fletcher headed in a fourth in the 74th minute as United cruised through the second half, and Arsenal had no answer as they meekly bowed out of the competition.
Both United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and his Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger made five changes with vital UEFA Champions League matches ahead next week.
It was Ferguson, however, who was left smiling after this rout of their title rivals.
United made a blistering start and it was no surprise they made the breakthrough in the 16th minute following a corner from Nani.
Anderson flicked the ball on and Rooney headed it beyond Jens Lehmann for his 11th goal of the season.
Three minutes later United made it 2-0 after good work by Nani on the left.
The Portuguese player chipped the ball into the area and Fletcher marked his first start in two months by heading home, although his effort seemed to take a deflection off William Gallas.
It was all United at this stage with Arsenal looking lethargic and out of sorts.
Nani and Anderson were showing good skill while Rooney was bright after missing the derby defeat by Manchester City at the weekend after suspension.
He latched on to a pass from Patrice Evra in the 32nd minute, only to clip his effort wide of the post.
Fletcher then picked out Rooney two minutes later but he failed to test Lehmann from inside the penalty area.
However Wenger must have been alarmed at the amount of room the England striker was being given by the Gunners' defence.
United made it 3-0 in the 38th minute following a pinpoint pass from Michael Carrick from deep.
Nani was alert and skipped goal-side of Justin Hoyte to score with a low drive into the corner.
United started the second half where they had left off with Rooney testing Lehmann in the 47th minute.
A minute later the Arsenal goalkeeper had to look alert as a free-kick from Rooney spun off Fletcher.
Arsenal's problems increased in the 49th minute when they were reduced to 10 men.
Eboue was dismissed by referee Alan Wiley after a clumsy challenge left Evra on the floor.
Eboue refused to believe it and questioned the decision before being led away down the touchline.
United were spraying the ball around, particularly Carrick, and Arsenal were being constantly stretched.
Evra then picked out Nani inside the six-yard box after 58 minutes but his effort was safely taken by Lehmann.
While Lehmann was being kept busy, his opposite number Edwin van der Sar was having little to do.
Rooney could have extended United's lead in the space of a couple of minutes but each time his finish was wasteful.
Arsenal launched a rare counter-attack in the 64th minute but substitute Eduardo da Silva headed over the top following a cross from Cesc Fabregas.
Anderson then found himself in acres of space, only to toe-poke his effort wide of the target.
Rooney came off after 68 minutes and was applauded by England boss Fabio Capello.
Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor was introduced in the 71st minute but three minutes later United made it 4-0.
Fletcher scored his second goal of the game with a header at the far post following a cross from the irrepressible Nani.
Adebayor joined Eduardo and Gilberto in the book soon after with United well on top and Nani beginning to showboat - much to the delight of the home fans.
However he took exception to the way he was being marked and squared up to Gallas.
United could have added to their tally but this was a super show nonetheless which secured their place in the last eight.