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28 Oct 2010

A comedy goal and a controversial effort helped Arsenal into the Carling Cup last eight at Newcastle's expense.

An attempted nodded clearance from Ryan Taylor hit his own keeper Tim Krul before going into the Magpies net to give Arsenal the lead.

Theo Walcott raced through and dinked in a second after Nicklas Bendtner appeared to block a Magpies defender as he came back from an offside position.

Bendtner then curled in a shot and Walcott slotted in Arsenal's fourth.

A weakened Newcastle showed plenty of commitment and valiantly tried to get back into the game at 2-0 down but the visitors punished them with some ruthless counter-attacking play.

Ultimately, it was a convincing win for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's side, which had an unusually strong look to it compared to the line-ups the Frenchman has chosen to field in previous Carling Cup campaigns.

And, while a five-year trophy absence might have had something to do with Wenger taking the competition more seriously, the need for some of his more renowned stars to get some first-team football also played a part.

Walcott, Bendtner, Tomas Rosicky, Denilson and Laurent Koscielny have all recently returned from injury and they helped the visitors make a blistering start against a Newcastle line-up chosen with Sunday's Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland in mind.

Magpies centre-back Mike Williamson was robbed of the ball by Rosicky in the opening minute and the Arsenal playmaker slid a pass through to Carlos Vela, whose strike was saved by the out-stretched leg of Krul.

From the resultant corner, Williamson had to twice block Bendtner shots at the far post before Krul smartly saved the Dane's third attempt.

Youngster Haris Vuckic sent an angled shot into the side-netting at the other end before the visitors resumed their assault on the home goal, with Walcott's pace and movement causing Newcastle all sorts of problems.

Bendtner dragged an angled strike wide before the Tyneside outfit almost punished Wenger's side for not making more of their chances.

Danny Guthrie played a ball over the top of the Gunners defence to release Nile Ranger and, after he stumbled past the challenge of onrushing keeper Wojciech Szczesny, his shot was blocked by Koscielny.

Almost immediately, Alan Smith launched a thunderous 30-yard strike which was brilliantly tipped on to the crossbar by Szczesny.

Newcastle started to contain their rivals as they worked their way into the game before they went behind on the stroke of half-time.

Krul was distracted by Craig Eastmond, who might have got a faint touch, as he flapped at a Bendtner header and, when Taylor tried to nod clear off the goal-line, all he managed to do was hit the ball against his keeper as it came off him and went into the home goal.

James Perch could have levelled matters had he not put a free header over from 10 yards prior to the main moment of controversy in the game.

Bendtner was trotting back from an offside position when Walcott was released on goal by Johan Djourou's clearing header, but the Dane ended up colliding with Williamson as the centre-back tried to intercept the ball, leaving Walcott to dink over Krul to add to Arsenal's lead.

Newcastle then threw on Andy Carroll and Jonas Gutierrez to try to help engineer a comeback and, while they carried a danger and gave Arsenal a couple of scares, they failed to convert their threat into goals.

The ability to play on the counter-attack played into Arsenal's hands and substitute Cesc Fabregas passed for Bendtner to cut inside and find the top corner with a precise strike before Walcott again raced clear and sidefooted past Krul for his sixth goal of the season.

Arsenal join Aston Villa, Birmingham, Ipswich, Manchester United, West Brom, West Ham and Wigan in the draw for the quarter-finals on Saturday.

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