Arsenal scored three goals in eight second-half minutes to emphatically extinguish Sunderland’s hopes of earning anything from Saturday’s tie at the Stadium of Light.
The title-chasing Gunners took the lead in the 19th minute when Alexis Sanchez’s diving header beat Jordan Pickford, and the visitors continued to press in the minutes that followed.
Sunderland saw a goal correctly disallowed for offside before half-time, but it was Arsenal who finished the first 45 on top.
And the hosts’ task was made even more difficult when captain John O’Shea was forced to withdraw with injury in the closing minutes of the first period.
Sunderland succeeded in building pressure and crafting opportunities in the opening minutes of the second half, but Arsenal continued to pose a threat on the break.
Sanchez saw a penalty claim ruled out for the visitors and minutes later the Black Cats’ own claim for a spot kick was upheld by referee Martin Atkinson, after Duncan Watmore was felled by Petr Cech.
Jermain Defoe made no mistake from the penalty to spot to put Sunderland back on level terms, and hopes were high that David Moyes’ side could earn something from the game.
But Arsenal found an extra gear following the concession of the equaliser, and a flurry of goals between 70 and 80 minutes took the game away from the hosts.
Substitute Olivier Giroud guided a shot home and then connected with Mesut Ozil’s corner to give Arsenal a 3-1 lead, before Sanchez poked the ball home from close range following a scramble in the penalty area.
The defeat means Sunderland remain rooted to the foot of the Premier League, while the three-goal deficit inflicts further damage on the team’s goal difference.
19th-placed Swansea City travel to face Stoke City this evening, while the Black Cats return to action on Saturday with a trip to the south coast to face Bournemouth.