Arsenal captain Casey Stoney admitted her side’s remarkable performance against Sunderland was inspired by the thought of running out on the hallowed Wembley turf, as they raced to a 7-0 victory in their SSE Women’s FA Cup Semi-Final with Sunderland.
Despite having Emma Mitchell sent off after just 33 minutes at Borehamwood, Arsenal went from strength-to-strength in the contest, with Danielle van de Donk bagging a hat-trick.
Arsenal 7-0 Sunderland
The SSE Women's FA Cup
Sunday 17 April 2016
By Ryan Lewis
Dan Carter also scored twice, Fara Williams stroked home a penalty and the excellent Jordan Nobbs grabbed another – with Abby Holmes also seeing red to add insult to injury for Sunderland.
And Stoney tipped her cap to the resilience of the squad as they kept to their task following their early setback.
"It’s not every day that you win 7-0, especially after having a player sent off," she said. "It was a fantastic team performance I have to say.
"Even the players that came off the bench were outstanding as well, it was a real squad effort today.
"Normally you go down to ten and you panic but we didn't. We knew we were good enough and we knew we could move the ball.
"Everything just clicked. We've been looking for a performance like that for a while. I'm sure Sunderland will be very disappointed but they'll learn from it and we move on to The Final.
"Wembley is one of the most exciting things, you dream to play there as a young girl and now we're there.
"We knew we had to win today to do that but now it's not just about going to Wembley; it's about going there and picking up a trophy."
Meanwhile, a dejected Sunderland manager Carlton Fairweather admitted his side’s performance was their worst so far this season.
And ahead of their clash with Liverpool next weekend, he knows work will have to be done at the back to restore his players’ confidence.
"I don't know where to start to be honest," he said. "We lacked the quality, lacked the determination, lacked the understanding. We were just poor all round and that's what is most upsetting.
"Credit to Arsenal, they worked very hard despite being down to ten players, they're a really good side and you could see that today.
"We always knew that anyway, and for some reason we thought the game was over when they went down to ten. Obviously that has come back to bite us on the backside.
"It's definitely going to be something we look at this week ahead of our game against Liverpool on Saturday.
"It's a massive confidence blow and it does feel devastating. We finished better than last year but obviously it’s disappointing what we’ve done today."