LONDON (Reuters) -Eddie Nketiah struck a hat-trick as Arsenal beat League One club Sunderland 5-1 at the Emirates on Tuesday to book a place in the semi-finals of the League Cup.
Mikel Arteta rotated his side but still fielded a strong enough line-up to ensure his team comfortably progressed to the last four.
The 22-year-old Nketiah, who has not started in the Premier League this season, put the Gunners ahead, against the third-tier club, pouncing from close range after Rob Holding's header from a corner was parried out by Sunderland keeper Lee Burge.
Nicolas Pepe doubled the lead with a deflected shot after good work from Cedric Soares but Sunderland pulled a goal back with a nice finish from Nathan Broadhead, who lifted the ball over the advancing Bernd Leno.
Nketiah restored the two goal advantage, clipping in a low ball from Nuno Tavares in the 49th minute and then produced a cheeky backheel finish to make it 4-1 after Pepe nutmegged Dener Hume and delivered a low cross.
The forward, whose contract at Arsenal runs out in June, has scored 10 goals in nine career appearances in the League Cup.
"This competition is the place I've been getting starts. I'll do my best whenever I'm asked to play," said Nketiah.
"I'm desperate to play football. All I can do is keep working hard. It'll sort itself out. As long as I play for Arsenal I'll give my all," said Nketiah, who has yet to agree any contract extension.
A positive evening for Arteta's side was completed when 18-year-old substitute Charlie Patino, making his senior debut, converted another low cross from Pepe.
Sunderland, who were relegated from the Premier League in 2017, were cheered on by 5,000 supporters from the North East and manager Lee Johnson said that he was pleased they had spells of good play in the game.
"The bigger picture for us is the learning experience. Now they know the standard. When you feel the quality of the opposition you learn so much more. Arsenal were fantastic," he said.
In the other three quarter-finals on Wednesday, Tottenham face West Ham United, Liverpool host Leicester City while Chelsea are at Brentford.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)