Sunderland Ladies slipped to a disappointing defeat against Arsenal in the SSE Women’s FA Cup semi-final at Meadow Park.
Goals from Danielle van de Donk and Dan Carter handed the Gunners a commanding lead with goals either side of half-time.
Arsenal then sealed their route to next month’s final with a penalty from Fara Williams before van de Donk scored twice – in between Jordan Nobbs’ goal - to seal her hat-trick before Carter wrapped up the scoring with her second in stoppage time.
However, such a scoreline didn’t look possible in the first-half as the hosts were reduced to 10 in the 33rd minute after Emma Mitchell picked up two yellow cards.
Sunderland Ladies, who were also reduced to 10 following Abbey Holmes’ dismissal, had their chances and will feel aggrieved that they weren’t awarded a penalty in the first period as Beth Mead was fouled on the line.
With a place at Wembley up for grabs for the victors, both teams went into the tie knowing it was a repeat of the 2009 FA Cup final which saw Arsenal win the trophy that day.
However, since then Sunderland Ladies have gone from strength to strength and following promotion from the FAWSL 2 two years ago, the Lasses have proved themselves to be a real force to be reckoned with.
Arsenal started the game the stronger but never really threatened Rachel Laws in the opening exchanges as Sunderland were happy to sit and frustrate the hosts.
But just as the Gunners appeared to be tightening the screw a rare Sunderland attack almost saw them awarded a penalty.
Mead pressed the ball well and forced a mix-up between Arsenal’s defence and goalkeeper, the 20-year-old stole in and pinched the ball before she was bundled to the ground.
At first it looked like the referee could award the Lady Black Cats a penalty but instead he ruled the foul to have been just outside the 18-yard box.
Lucy Staniforth whipped in the free-kick but Arsenal dealt with the set-piece well and cleared their lines with ease.
It was a scrappy encounter which then saw the hosts reduced to 10 after Emma Mitchell was dismissed for two bookable offences. The left-back picked up here first for a strong challenge on Mead and then just three minutes later was given her marching orders after pulling back Krystle Johnston.
But while Sunderland had a numerical advantage it was Arsenal who took the lead just six minutes later through van de Donk. Natalia Pablos Sanchon drilled a ball across the face of goal and after a scramble of bodies on the goal-line van de Donk turned it home.
It was a deserved lead although an extremely slender one as neither team had created too many chances in the opening half. The visitors hit their rhythm early in the second-half and almost levelled the tie when Abbey Joice saw her effort from the edge of the box deflect behind for a corner after an incisive break from Mead.
But just as Sunderland searched for an equaliser, the Gunners doubled their advantage through Carter who made an intelligent run to the near post before tapping home.
Sunderland looked to respond and went close through Rachel Furness who forced Sari van Veenendaal to tip her effort over the bar.
However, just as the visitors looked to be getting themselves back into the game, Arsenal broke incisively and were awarded a penalty when van de Donk was fouled by Abby Holmes.
Holmes was shown a straight red card before Williams dispatched a calm penalty beyond Laws’ right hand post.
From there on Arsenal upstaged Sunderland and were incredibly ruthless in their finishing as they grabbed another four goals.
Van de Donk scored her second after Carter broke well before feeding Sanchon who fired a great ball across for van de Donk to finish off.
Nobbs then netted the Gunners’ fifth goal after an incisive breakthrough saw the former Sunderland player round Laws before calmly slotting home in the 82nd minute.
Three minutes later van de Donk sealed her fine performance with a hat-trick as she latched onto Nobbs’ excellent through ball to fire past Laws.
Sunderland continued to work hard but the Gunners’ quality was clear to see and deep into stoppage time Carter scored her second and Arsenal’s seventh.
Kelly Smith, who came on as a second-half substitute, found Carter unselfishly and she was on form to wrap up the victory.
The result means Sunderland have been knocked out of the SSE Women’s FA Cup while Arsenal progress to the final at Wembley next month.
Sunderland Ladies starting XI: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Williams, Sjoman, Furness (McDougall, 81), Chaplen, Staniforth, Johnston (Ramshaw, 65), Joice (Kelly, 56), Mead.
Unused subs: Olsen, Sharp.