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Portsmouth 0-2 Arsenal


This was not the script ordered by Michael Eisner, the Disney executive who sank his money into Portsmouth and remarked how the best sporting films always featured the triumph of the underdog.

Instead, another sweet narrative; one where the Pompey dream was sunk by an admirable performance from a young man by the name of Nelson.

Arsenal sailed into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and it was Reiss Nelson not Horatio who clinched the victory on the south coast, creating two goals, either side of half-time with two wonderful crosses from the right flank.

The first was converted by Sokratis, a sweet volley, and the second was hammered in from close range by Eddie Nketiah.

For Mikel Arteta it was the perfect response to the disappointment of a shock defeat in the Europa League at the hands of Olympiakos.

Arteta held his nerve and made nine changes to the team, trusting in his young players and they passed the test by silencing the raucous atmosphere inside Fratton Park where Portsmouth have been in strong form this season.

'Yes it was a risk,' said the Arsenal boss. 'But I had no doubt about picking them. Even if we had won in the Europa League I assessed the team, some of them were exhausted, some of them had issues, some of them mentally were still hanging over what happened on Thursday.

'So I tried to pick the right team knowing how they were and make the most of it. If we win it's OK, if we'd lost obviously it was the wrong decision.

'They responded really well with all the energy. I was looking at them in the 94th minute and they were still pressing and chasing and working. It's a joy to see them. I am enjoying working with them. They fully deserve the chance.

'It's risky to play them in this competition but they are worth that risk.'

The only concern for Arsenal came in the shape of an injury for Lucas Torreira who

hobbled out of Fratton Park on crutches and with his left foot in a protective boot after a twisting an ankle in a strong first-half challenge from James Bolton.

'He was in a lot of pain,' said Arteta. 'He's in a brace and he'll get it assessed in the next few days. I don't know if it's the bone or ligaments yet.'

Portsmouth started with intensity and aggression and there was encouragement as they disturbed Arsenal at the back with a swerving cross by Steve Seddon and an effort from Ellis Harrison which deflected wide.

David Luiz and Pablo Mari, on his debut, won important headers to protect their goal during the early phase of pressure from Pompey.

Arsenal lost Torreira inside 15 minutes. Bolton slid in and took the ball cleanly but flattened the Uruguayan with his momentum and left him writhing in agony.

He required oxygen as he under lengthy treatment on the pitch for what appeared to be an ankle injury before he was carried straight out of the ground on a stretcher.

Dani Ceballos came on and the short interval cost Pompey their momentum. Until then,

Arsenal's only flash of menace had come from an explosive run and cross, flashed low across goal by Nketiah.

But they performed with more control when play restarted. Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Nelson caused problems out wide and both Nketiah and Martinelli were unable to convert decent - though not simple - chances from close range.

Nketiah dragged another effort wide after good play by Luiz, carrying the ball through midfield.

Portsmouth were forced deeper and their occasional forays forward were rushed and they were unable to test goalkeeper Emi Martinez. Gareth Evans went closest with a header which went wide and then in the fourth minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half they slipped behind.

An Arsenal corner was cleared and collected by Ceballos who found Nelson on the right and his cross was met on the by Sokratis. It was a stylish finish from the Greek centre-half who was operating again as a right-back.

'That deflated us,' said Jackett. 'We needed those moments to go for us in the first half and were disappointed not to get to half-time at 0-0. After the second we really had to battle because Arsenal can get on top and make you pay and we never gave up and gave everything to the end.'

Pompey stirred briefly at the start of the second half. Mateo Guendouzi acted smartly to prevent Harrison from tearing clear on the counter and Luke Williams jinked into the penalty area from the right only to drag his shot wide.

Arsenal stretched the lead six minutes after the restart. Nelson drove down the right and delivered another cross. It was contested by Nketiah and Bolton and dropped kindly for the striker to pounce and fire it high into the net.

Nketiah had the nerve to goad the Fratton End. Perhaps he knew the tie was over. Arsenal not been knocked out of the FA Cup by team from third tier or lower since Wrexham defeat in 1992. They have not lost to Portsmouth since 1958.

The wait goes on. Arteta's team move on. Back to Premier League action with a derby against West Ham on Saturday.

Pompey have a promotion clash at Peterborough next as they attempt to continue the resurrection and they will have their day at Wembley in next month's EFL Trophy final against Salford.

'I'm proud of what we've done in the FA Cup,' said Jackett. 'We were the last League One team in it. This was Arsenal's night and we wish them all the best. We have to look forward and finish strong in the two competitions we're still in.'

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