Tag: FA Cup

FA Cup: Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool

Aston Villa will meet Arsenal in the FA Cup final after a thoroughly deserved win over a desperately disappointing Liverpool at Wembley.

Villa’s win was a triumph for manager Tim Sherwood as his side produced a performance of style, composure and grit to come from behind and reach their first FA Cup final since their loss to Chelsea in 2000.

As a consequence there will be no dream finale to his Liverpool career for Steven Gerrard. The Reds skipper, who will join Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy in the summer, was hoping to make a final appearance for the club in an FA Cup final scheduled to take place on 30 May, his 35th birthday.

Philippe Coutinho clipped Liverpool into the lead but the dangerous Christian Benteke levelled before half-time and Villa scored the winner their display fully merited through Fabian Delph’s cool finish nine minutes after the break.

Lethargic Liverpool mounted a rally of sorts late on when Kieran Richardson cleared off the line from Liverpool captain Gerrard and half-time substitute Mario Balotelli was dubiously ruled offside when he had the ball in the net.

Villa, however, were not to be denied and the final whistle sparked scenes of joy among players and supporters alike.

The normally animated Sherwood had been calm on the touchline throughout but all his emotions poured out as he celebrated another trip to Wembley on 30 May, on top of moving Villa towards Premier League safety. The ex-Spurs manager, who replaced sacked Paul Lambert in February, has overseen a superb rejuvenation at Villa Park.

Villa had giants all over the pitch, particularly in the shape of Benteke and the gifted 19-year-old Jack Grealish, who played with a calm that belied his years in this hothouse atmosphere.

Liverpool, in contrast, were dismal and once again failed to deliver when the big occasion demanded – which will be a matter of great concern to manager Brendan Rodgers.

Read more at BBC Sport

FA Cup: Reading 1-2 Arsenal (AET)

Holders Arsenal reached a record 19th FA Cup final after two goals from Alexis Sanchez sealed victory over Reading in extra-time.

Sanchez gave the Premier League side a 39th-minute lead from close range before Garath McCleary volleyed home an equaliser shortly after the break.

Reading needed the post and keeper Adam Federici to keep the scores level as the game required an extra 30 minutes to decide the outcome.

The Australian keeper was at fault as Sanchez’s effort spilled through his grasp and rolled in and although Reading pushed for an equaliser Arsenal held on.

Read more at BBC Sport

FA Cup: Reading 3-0 Bradford

Bradford’s fairytale run was brought to an end as Reading sealed their first FA Cup semi-final appearance for 88 years.

A Hal Robson-Kanu header and deflected Garath McCleary shot in the opening nine minutes set the Championship side on the way to a sixth-round replay win.

Bradford’s Filipe Morais was sent off for a high challenge on 63 minutes and Jamie Mackie scored Reading’s third shortly after with a neat low finish.

The Royals will face FA Cup holders Arsenal at Wembley on 18 or 19 April.

Reading took control straight from the first whistle, nine days after the sides battled out a 0-0 stalemate at Valley Parade.

Robson-Kanu gave them an ideal start, rising to score with a near-post header from McCleary’s sixth-minute corner.

The impressive McCleary – later the alleged victim of racist abuse by a supporter – doubled the lead three minutes later with Phil Parkinson’s side still attempting to regroup.

The winger cut in from the right to beat keeper Ben Williams from just inside the area with a shot that took a big looping deflection off Andy Halliday.

A fine save from Williams prevented Reading’s Dan Williams from adding a long-range third before half-time.

League One Bradford, who made six changes to the side that drew with Notts County on Saturday, retained hope of a second-half comeback, after recovering from two goals down in round four to beat Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge in one of the competition’s greatest-ever shocks.

But 48 hours after their last game, the tired-looking Bantams never appeared capable of a repeat of their heroics, which had also seen them knock out Premier League Sunderland and Championship side Millwallduring a memorable run.

Their task was made even harder when Morais was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Nathaniel Chalobah – the Portuguese winger’s foot connecting with the on-loan Chelsea midfielder’s midriff as they contested a high ball.

Reading, who had rested all of their starting 11 in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat by Watford, pressed home their numerical advantage, Chalobah releasing Mackie to fire past an exposed Williams.

Home fans celebrated on the pitch after the final whistle, having had time to savour the success in a one-sided contest.

Read more at BBC Sport

FA Cup: Man Utd 1-2 Arsenal

Danny Welbeck came back to haunt Louis van Gaal as the Manchester United manager was subjected to a night of despair and defeat at Old Trafford.

Capitalising on a horror backpass from Phil Jones, Welbeck sent Arsenal through to the semifinals of the FA Cup with a 61st-minute winner after Wayne Rooney had equalised Nacho Monreal’s opener.

To pile yet more misery on the United boss, he watched Angel Di Maria get sent off towards the end of the 2-1 defeat for pulling referee Michael Oliver’s shirt as he reacted angrily to being booked for diving.

Replays showed Di Maria was pulled back by Aaron Ramsey before he tumbled to the ground, but the way in which he reacted will not please United boss Van Gaal.

Di Maria can have little reason to complain. The £59.7m signing snatched at Oliver’s shirt as he turned away after issuing him with a booking.

The dismissal is the latest episode in a long list of disappointments for the British record signing, who Van Gaal hoped would bring silverware to Old Trafford.

With United 10 points behind Chelsea in the league, that dream is almost certainly over. After a mildly encouraging performance in the first half, United wilted and looked blunt after the restart. Welbeck, the Longsight lad who left his boyhood club for north London last summer, provided the killer touch after a clanger from Antonio Valencia.

Van Gaal claimed he controversially ditched Welbeck last summer because the striker did not score enough goals.

And while the forward has hardly been prolific at Arsenal, he will have enjoyed showing Van Gaal what he is missing here.

For Van Gaal, the dream of silverware may be over, but Arsene Wenger’s side are now very much favourites to regain the FA Cup after registering their first win at Old Trafford in nine years.

Read more at ESPN

FA Cup: Semi Final Draw

FA Cup holders Arsenal must wait until next Monday to find out who they will meet in this year’s semi-finals at Wembley.

Shortly after seeing off Manchester United in an exciting Sixth Round tie at Old Trafford, Arsene Wenger’s men were paired with the winners of Bradford City and Reading in the last-four.

Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel and Arsenal fan Dermot O’Leary made the draw for the semis, which drew out Aston Villa to face the victors of Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers’ replay in early April.

Bradford or Reading Arsenal
Aston Villa Liverpool or Blackburn Rovers

The two ties will be played on the weekend of 18 and 19 April at the national stadium, exact dates and times will be confirmed soon.

Read more at The FA

FA Cup: Liverpool 0-0 Blackburn

There was little magic in this FA Cup quarter-final on an afternoon when, for once, Liverpool’s free-flowing football deserted them in the face of a committed and well-organised Blackburn side.

A 0-0 draw meant that the Reds failed to score for only the third time in the last 12 matches as mid-tabled SkyBet Championship side Rovers frustrated the home side.

Blackburn succeeded where, a week ago, Premier League champions Manchester City had failed in not only keeping a clean sheet but avoiding defeat as they brought their hosts’ five-match winning run at Anfield to an end.

However, based on their first-half performance, there may be a tinge of regret on Blackburn’s part that they are not already celebrating a trip to Wembley.

An eight-minute injury delay for Martin Skrtel, who fell awkwardly in an aerial challenge with Rudy Gestede and appeared to briefly lose consciousness before being carried off wearing a neck brace, disrupted the flow as early as the third minute.

Blackburn responded to the lengthy break better and threatened to overwhelm their off-key hosts, who struggled to dominate midfield with Emre Can replacing the injured Joe Allen.

Gestede, Rovers’ 15-goal top scorer proved to be a handful for a remodelled defence which now had substitute Kolo Toure at its heart with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet also enduring his fair share of aerial tests.

Toure’s reading of the game allowed him to cut out a break from Craig Conway but the Blackburn midfielder was able to regain possession and swing over a cross which Glen Johnson chested narrowly past the post under pressure from Gestede.

Conway was less precise with his next effort, blazing over when presented with a free shot after Toure had given the ball away and got caught out of position.

Blackburn continued to dominate with Raheem Sterling, positioned out wide on the left, having to track back to block a Gestede but for all their pressure they could not force the breakthrough.

Liverpool’s efforts were sporadic with Adam Lallana having a penalty claim turned down for a challenge by Matt Kilgallon, Toure blasting home only to be denied by an offside flag and Daniel Sturridge’s fierce effort in added time parried away by Simon Eastwood.

If the home side were hoping the interval would help put things right in the second half Alex Baptiste’s 49th-minute header, tipped over by Mignolet at full stretch, was a warning it would require more than a 15-minute break to alter the momentum.

Liverpool needed something to jolt them into life and the introduction of Mario Balotelli just before the hour was aimed at doing that, although Toure again came closest to scoring with a header against the post from close range.

Balotelli’s blast high into the Anfield Road End was evidence of the job Blackburn had done in frustrating their opponents, although Baptiste got away with a surreptitious shirt-pull on the Italy international as the match entered its last 15 minutes.

Jordan Henderson’s angled drive was batted away by Eastwood as Blackburn mounted a determined rearguard action in the face of late pressure which saw Sterling head wide but the visitors fully deserved the chance for another shot at securing a semi-final spot on home turf.

Read more at ESPN

FA Cup: Aston Villa 2-0 West Brom

Aston Villa off to Wembley for FA Cup semifinal after win over West Brom

Fabian Delph’s first goal in a year helped fire Aston Villa to Wembley as they beat West Brom 2-0 to reach the FA Cup semifinals.

The stand-in skipper scored for the first time since March 2014 as Villa became the first side to bank a last four spot.

Scott Sinclair grabbed a late second after Claudio Yacob was controversially sent off with 10 minutes left and Villa substitute Jack Grealish was also dismissed in stoppage time, picking up a second yellow card for diving.

But the win was marred by ugly scenes which saw seats thrown from the West Brom fans towards the Villa supporters.

Victory completed a dream double over the Baggies after Villa’s 2-1 Barclays Premier League win on Tuesday, which lifted them out of the relegation zone.

Christian Benteke, who scored the late penalty winner on Tuesday, was sidelined with a hip injury as Sinclair replaced him.

Shay Given and Leandro Bacuna also came in while Boaz Myhill replaced Ben Foster in the Baggies goal, after the keeper’s nightmare game in mid-week, and Jonas Olsson started with Darren Fletcher cup-tied.

Given had already saved from Berahino before Villa survived a huge let-off thanks to Brown Ideye’s wayward finishing after eight minutes.

Craig Gardner wriggled behind the hosts’ defence and presented the ball on a plate for Ideye but the unmarked striker could only fire over from eight yards.

It was the best chance of a poor first half which failed to live up to the pre-match hype.

Villa lacked punch and a focal point without Benteke, failing to threaten during a first half where Gabby Agbonlahor struggled to replicate the performance which caused the Baggies problems in mid-week.

There was no fluidity to the hosts’ play, allowing Albion to nullify them with ease.

The visitors continued to be the aggressors and Given claimed Ideye’s header before he turned Brunt’s volley over after the ball had struck Olsson on the shoulder.

The Baggies were on top but Villa emerged for the second half with renewed purpose and took the lead on 51 minutes.

The previously quiet Charles N’Zogbia skipped inside and found the unmarked Delph who was gifted too much time to rifle past Myhill from 16-yards.

It was the midfielder’s first goal since he scored in Villa’s 1-0 win over Chelsea last season.

It was also Villa’s first clear chance but Albion rallied and should have levelled six minutes later only for Joleon Lescott to plant a five-yard header wide.

The goal had given the hosts renewed confidence, though, and Myhill had to rush out and block from Sinclair with 21 minutes left.

And 90 seconds later the winger almost finished the game when he skipped down the left and dragged a shot wide.

Albion were on the ropes and Ashley Westwood’s drive deflected wide before Gardner deflected the ball onto his own bar with 14 minutes left.

It then got worse for the Baggies when Yacob was sent off for a second yellow card.

There seemed little wrong when Bacuna went to tackle the midfielder, who remained on his feet, only for referee Anthony Taylor to issued a second booking for the Albion man.

It left the Baggies fuming and Villa wrapped the game up with five minutes remaining when Grealish broke, found Sinclair and the Manchester City loanee cut inside Brunt and curled into the corner.

Seats were then thrown from the Albion end into the Villa fans.

Grealish was dismissed for a dive in injury time and game was also delayed after a pitch invasion from the home supporters before the final whistle.
 Read more at ESPN

FA Cup: Bradford 0-0 Reading

Bradford and Reading must wait to make history after the two lowest sides left in this season’s FA Cup clattered out a goalless lunchtime draw at Valley Parade.

League One side Bradford had the best of a fractious affair but Phil Parkinson’s men could not quite summon the spirit which had swept them past Chelsea and Sunderland in the two previous rounds.

And despite the Bantams dominating for long periods Championship outfit Reading almost snatched it at the death when Oliver Norwood’s free-kick eluded everyone in the box and struck the base of Ben Williams’ right-hand upright.

Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak and Bradford’s Gary Liddle also hit the woodwork in the first period in a game big on intent but clearly suffering from the pressure of the momentous prize at stake for both clubs.

A winner would have sent Bradford into the semi-finals for the first time since they won the trophy in 1911 while the Royals were bidding to end their own 88-year wait.

The bustling tempo was set in the opening minute as Bradford midfielder Billy Knott barged over Jamie Mackie and moments later a Nathaniel Chalobah challenge left James Hanson stretched out on the turf.

If such a game was always bound to be short on quality the early tempo was breathtaking with both sides clearly keen to make a mark in front of two sets of raucous supporters in the lunchtime sunshine.

The urgency even extended to the sidelines where Parkinson reacted with fury to an Alex Pearce foul on Hanson which went unpunished by referee Neil Swarbrick who called the game back for an earlier foul throw.

Bradford had the first shot on target in the 12th minute but it was a simple save for Adam Federici after Hanson only half-connected with a deep cross from the left by James Meredith.

Perhaps mindful of their status as favourites in many people’s eyes given their heroics of previous rounds, it was the hosts who seemed to be feeling the pressure most as Steve Clarke’s men began to take a grip on proceedings.

Pogrebnyak missed a great chance to snatch the lead for the visitors in the 27th minute when he was put through by Mackie only to fire his low right-foot shot against the post.

But the home side came equally close nine minutes later when a half-clearance fell to Liddle whose cross from wide on the left eluded everybody in the box and struck the base of Federici’s right-hand post.

Keen to keep up his record of scoring in every round of this season’s competition, Jon Stead was close to connecting with another Meredith cross as the first half nudged to a rather gruelling conclusion.

Bradford looked a better team from the start of the second period, pinning the visitors back and coming close within seconds of the re-start when Filipe Morais got behind the Reading defence to reach a Hanlon cross only to scuff his effort from a tight angle.

Clarke skewed an effort wide after a neat one-two with Stead on the edge of the box, then Stead himself wriggled through a group of Reading defenders before Stephen Kelly denied him a shooting opportunity with a fine sliding tackle.

Reading were barely in the game as it ticked past the hour mark and they were lucky to stay on level terms in the 71st minute when Hanson fired just wide from point-blank range after a cross from Stead.

Bradford came close again four minutes later when the excellent Morais flung in another cross from wide on the right and found the head of defender Andrew Davies, who powered his shot just over Federici’s bar.

Then came Norwood’s late free-kick which sprang through a crowded box and sparked a mighty goalmouth scramble as the visitors missed their chance to snatch a place in the last four by a lick of paint.

Read more at ESPN

FA Cup: Preston 1-3 Man Utd

Wayne Rooney ended his goal drought as Manchester United came from behind to beat Preston and set up a mouth-watering FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal.

After watching Bradford take their second Premier League scalp of the competition on Sunday, United were wary of falling victim to another upset and they feared the worst when Scott Laird put Preston ahead.

But luckily for United manager Louis van Gaal, Ander Herrera equalised soon after and Marouane Fellaini poked home before Rooney scored a late penalty to give the Red Devils a 3-1 win.

Rooney, starting up front rather than in the midfield role he has occupied of late, looked threatening in the first half, working the channels, but was unable to test Preston goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann.

Rooney was not the only guilty party. Radamel Falcao put in yet another poor display and it did not come as a surprise when he was substituted for Ashley Young on the hour.

Van Gaal’s substitution proved crucial as Young set up Herrera for the equaliser.

Fellaini, who was pushed up front following Falcao’s removal, then poked in from close range after a brave save from Stuckmann.

And then Rooney ended his seven-and-a-half week wait for a goal when he tucked away a penalty after being brought down in the box on a United break.

The display against League One opposition will have done little to silence Van Gaal’s critics, but the Dutchman will not care.

His team are now one step closer to ending the first year of his stewardship with a trophy – one that United have not won in 11 years.

Just a few days after intimating that Rooney would continue playing in midfield, Van Gaal took everyone by surprise by deploying his captain up front alongside Falcao.

Rooney looked determined to make an impression by making darting runs behind the North End back four.

Angel di Maria sensed as much, but an early attempt to play the skipper in failed as his pass was too heavy.

A brief moment of panic occurred when Daley Blind slipped on to his backside when shepherding a ball across the back four, but other than that United looked settled.

Joe Garner went down in the box following a nudge by Chris Smalling, but referee Phil Dowd waved play on.

Di Maria looked the most likely source of inspiration for United. The home fans held their breath as the B£59.7million man curled a free-kick up and over the wall but, much to their relief, the attempt flew just wide.

John Welsh gave the Argentinian a reminder he was at a League One ground when he put in a crunching tackle to dispossess the 27-year-old.

Welsh, a Liverpool fan who came through the Academy at Anfield, then dived in to deny Rooney with a crucial block after some good work down the left by Luke Shaw.

United’s tempo was much better than it had been in recent weeks and they moved from defence to attack quickly. Di Maria continued to dazzle, beating three Preston players with a run from deep.

But more often than not, the final ball from United was poor. Di Maria’s diagonal pass to Falcao was too heavy, Blind was guilty of the same thing and Rooney inexplicably fired a 40-yard pass straight out of play.

Luckily for United, Preston offered little going forward either. Their main chances before the break came when Garner headed over and Paul Gallagher fired a low shot at David de Gea.

Two minutes after the restart, the Preston fans got the dream goal they had wished for.

Laird ran on to Garner’s incisive pass and fired an early shot that squeezed past De Gea via the toe of Antonio Valencia.

Laird was booked for his frenzied celebration and a pyrotechnic went off among the home fans.

Tom Clarke came close to raising the Deepdale roof moments later, but he could not get a clean connection on a close-range volley.

Van Gaal replaced Falcao with Young, who moved out to the left wing.

United instantly looked more threatening with two wingers on the pitch and Young provided the assist for the equaliser.

The former Aston Villa man found Herrera, who fired a powerful shot past Stuckmann and in off the post.

Preston desperately tried to cling on for a money-spinning replay, but Fellaini struck to put the visitors ahead for the first time.

Valencia swung in a deep cross to find Fellaini. The Belgian’s first effort was blocked by Stuckmann but he stabbed the ball in at the second attempt.

And the result was put beyond doubt when Rooney raced on to a through ball and was brought down by Stuckmann.

The England captain got to his feet and banged the ball past the North End goalkeeper to seal United’s progression to the last eight.

Read more at ESPN

FA Cup: Man Utd face Arsenal in FA Cup quarter-finals

FA Cup holders Arsenal will travel to Manchester United in the quarter-finals next month.

United confirmed their place in the last eight after coming from behind to win 3-1 at Preston North End.

The Gunners, who beat Hull City in last year’s final, defeated Middlesbrough in the fifth round.

Liverpool host Blackburn, League One survivors Bradford City face Reading while West Midlands rivals Aston Villa and West Brom will meet at Villa Park.

Liverpool’s last-eight draw will give Steven Gerrard hope of reaching Wembley in his final season at the Reds, although they will have to overcome a Blackburn side who have knocked out Premier League opposition in Swansea and Stoke already this season.

League One side Bradford are into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 1976, and will be confident of progressing further after beating Premier League sides Chelsea and Sunderland in the previous rounds.

The quarter-final draw was made by England boss Roy Hodgson and Brian Finney, son of Preston legend Tom Finney, at Deepdale on Monday before the Preston-Manchester United game.

The draw in full:

Liverpool v Blackburn
Bradford v Reading
Manchester United v Arsenal
Aston Villa v West Brom

Ties to be played on 7 and 8 March.