Mohamed Elneny and Eddie Nketiah struck for Arsenal in a hard-fought 3-0 victory over hosts Oxford United in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup.
A tense first half at the Kassam Stadium saw both sides struggle to create chances, with neither team able to produce a moment of magic when it mattered.
However, the second half showed renewed intent from the 14-time champions and Elneny’s header and Nketiah’s brace saw them seal a deserved victory on the night.
Arsenal were largely in control in the opening 20 minutes and ultimately throughout the first half, though neither side were able to generate an early opportunity.
It was the hosts who eventually produced the first shot on goal 25 minutes in, though Cameron Brannagan’s long-range strike was easily blocked.
The Gunners were able to generate some chances and there were appeals for a penalty when Albert Lokanga’s shot appeared to be blocked by Elliott Moore’s arm, though any appeals were waved away.
A lack of clinical play in the final third affected both sides, and Eddie Nketiah’s 43rd-minute flick sailed over the bar in what was probably the best chance of the opening 45 minutes.
[Emirates FA Cup 2022/23]
[Third round weekend]
A string of corners went Arsenal’s way though some stern defending, particularly from the likes of Lewis Bate, saw the U’s stay on level terms.
However, just after the hour mark Elneny rewarded Arsenal’s pressure with a goal.
The Egyptian was left unmarked in the box and headed home from Fabio Viera’s freekick for his first goal in over 18 months and give his side the lead.
And Nketiah put the Gunners firmly in the driving seat seven minutes later, rounding the ‘keeper after a superb break and calmly slotting home to double Arsenal’s advantage.
It didn’t take too long for Nketiah to seal victory, a second superb strike putting the game out of sight and setting up a tantalising fourth round clash between Arsenal and Manchester City.