Arsenal swept into the Champions League semi-finals with a 3-0 victory over Villarreal at the Emirates Stadium. Theo Walcott broke the deadock after 10 minutes before Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie, from the penalty spot, scored in the second-half to complete a 4-1 aggregate success.
The visitors had Sebastian Eguren sent-off for protesting the spot kick award and the Liga outfit were helpless to prevent the Gunners setting up an all-Premier League last four meeting with Manchester United.
Walcott gave Arsene Wenger’s men the vital early goal when Emmanuel Eboue, stepping in for the ill Bacary Sagna at right-back, played a ball down the right flank that was flicked on by captain Cesc Fabregas. The touch wrong-footed Diego Godin and gave the England winger a sight at goal which he took with some aplomb, dinking the ball audaciously over keeper Diego Lopez.
Walcott continued to give Spain left-back Joan Capdevila a torrid time, producing two dangerous crosses, the first of which ended in Van Persie nodding over and the second seeing the hesitant Gonzalo Rodriguez tread on the ball in the six yard box only to do just enough to avert the danger.
The Gunners came close to a second just before the half hour when Van Persie’s free-kick was superbly saved by Lopez, diving one handed to his right. Adebayor should have scored from the rebound but failed to get much purchase on his header and Rodriguez hacked off the line.
Villarreal failed to seriously test a makeshift Arsenal rearguard without Sagna, William Gallas, Johan Djourou and Gael Clichy plus keeper Manuel Almunia.
A scissors kick from Godin was straight at Lukasz Fabianski and the big defender also headed over while former Gunner Robert Pires had a shot from the edge of the area deflected for a corner.
The Londoners started the second-half tentatively but their nerves were eased with a second on the hour. Fabregas nodded on to Van Persie and the Dutchman picked out Adebayor who escaped the attentions of Godin and poked the ball into the corner for his fourth goal in three starts since recovering from injury.
And the match was settled nine minutes later when Walcott checked inside and was brought down by a sliding Godin. The big Uruguayan defender took some ball but also the man in his follow through and a spot kick was awarded by German referee Wolfgang Stark. Villarreal were incensed by the decision and Eguren received a second yellow card for dissent.
Van Persie swept a left-footed penalty into the corner past the diving Lopez as Arsenal ended Villarreal’s Champions League hopes for the second time in four seasons.