Everton’s hopes of Wembley glory will have to wait for another year after their FA Cup run was brought to a shuddering halt at Arsenal.
Roberto Martinez’s side were ultimately undone by three goals in the final quarter as the Gunners romped to a 4-1 triumph at the Emirates in their quarter-final tie.
After Mesut Ozil had fired Arsenal into an early lead, Romelu Lukaku dragged the Blues back into the match with his 11 goal of the season on 32 minutes.
But the game turned on Gareth Barry conceding a penalty from which former Everton favourite Mikel Arteta netted a twice-taken spot kick midway through the second half.
Arsenal FC v Everton FC: FA Cup quarter final pictures from The Emirates
Two late goals from substitute Olivier Giroud gave the scoreline a somewhat harsh appearance for Martinez’s side, who had competed gamely until fading in the closing 20 minutes.
Now Everton must concentrate on their final 11 Premier League games with European qualification the priority.
With Arsenal having lost only two of 39 home FA Cup ties under Arsene Wenger – already seeing off Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the Emirates – Everton were under no illusions concerning the size of their task.
Re-live all the key moments in our live blog from the Emirates here.
However, an impressive performance in the 1-1 Premier League draw here in December, and Arsenal’s indifferent recent form, offered reasons for encouragement as they sought a first win away to the Gunners since 1996.
The pre-match patter centred on the decision of Martinez to choose second-string goalkeeper Joel Robles in an otherwise first-choice available line-up.
Martinez, though, had used the same ploy in the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic last season when Robles was key to the Latics going on to win the trophy.
Phil Jagielka’s hamstring injury meant John Stones continued at centre-back alongside Sylvain Distin, while Ross Barkley – a fine performer on his last two visits to the Emirates – was preferred behind lone striker Lukaku.
Mere seconds into the match, Barry was caught in the face by a flailing arm from Arteta.
It set the tone for a surprisingly firey start from the Gunners that resulted in the opening goal after seven minutes.
James McCarthy’s untimely slip when attempting a challenge on Santi Cazorla gave the Spaniard space to progress and play the ball into the path of Ozil who executed a fine first-time angled finish into the bottom corner from 16 yards.
For much of the opening half-hour, Everton were on the defensive.
But while Robles’ reluctance to catch was as confusing as it was unorthodox, it nevertheless proved effective in keeping the Gunners at bay.
Shortly after the goal, Robles turned behind a fierce shot from Yaya Sanogo and, after the resultant corner was only partially cleared, the goalkeeper punched out a firm effort from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Blues put their bodies on the line to stem the Arsenal tide, Stones producing a fine block after Kieran Gibbs played a one-two with Ozil and then in the right place again to repel Cazorla’s drive.
Robles ensured visiting hearts were in mouths on 24 minutes when turning a harmless Bacary Sagna centre against his own crossbar.
Other than an 11th-minute chance when Steven Pienaar, under pressure from Sagna, failed to connect properly with a Kevin Mirallas cut back, Everton rarely threatened.
But that all changed in the 32 minute thanks to an electric piece of play from Barkley.
The youngster received possession deep inside his own half and embarked on a driving 60-yard run Mathieu Flamini, booked eight minutes earlier, thought twice about thwarting.
Barkley then arced a perfect cross from the right towards Mirallas at the far post who was relieved to see his fluffed finish drop into the path of the incoming Lukaku to gleefully prod over the line.
Tails up, the Blues ended the half the stronger.
Lukaku sent Mirallas clear with a fine pass but, having cut inside, the winger shot weakly at Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianksi.
But Lukaku made the wrong choice when, after intercepting a poor Oxlade-Chamberlain pass, he elected to run on instead of releasing Barkley and the opening was eventually snuffed out.
The Belgian, though, did better 10 minutes into the second half when gifted the ball by Thomas Vermaelen’s touchline slip, progressing into the box and finding Barkley who, unmarked 12 yards out, should have done better than fire horribly over.
Robles then had to dive full-length to his left to turn behind Cazorla’s drive as Arsenal started to press once again.
However, Everton had only themselves to blame when they fell behind on 68 minutes.
Having already checked Oxlade-Chamberlain’s run into the box, Barry couldn’t resist another nibble leaving referee Mark Clattenburg no option put to point to the spot.
Arteta held his nerve to score the retake after Olivier Giroud was ruled to have encroached on the Spaniard’s successful first attempt.
It knocked the stuffing out of Martinez’s men, their misery made complete by conceding two goals to substitute Giroud in the closing moments.
On 83 minutes, Sagna was allowed time and space in the area to cut the ball back to the near post where Giroud shot beyond Robles.
And then, two minutes later, after substitute Gerard Deulofeu lost possession, a swift counter-attack ended with Ozil finding Giroud for a simple finish.
The trophy drought goes on.
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Flamini; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Rosicky 78), Ozil, Cazorla; Sanogo (Giroud 61). Subs: Viviano, Podolski, Jenkinson, Ryo, Gnabry. BOOKINGS: Flamini (foul) and Giroud (encroachment).
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Robles; Coleman, Stones, Distin, Baines; Barry, McCarthy; Mirallas (Osman 76), Barkley (Deulofeu 84), Pienaar (McGeady 76); Lukaku. Subs: Howard, Hibbert, Naismith, Browning. BOOKING: McCarthy (foul).
REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg.
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