Monday 01 April 2013

FA Cup: Chelsea burst Manchester United's double bubble

Demba Ba's spectacular strike earns Blues FA Cup quarter-final victory over league leaders

  • Demba Ba eludes Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand to score Chelsea's winning goal

Chelsea ended Manchester United's hopes of completing a first Barclays Premier League and FA Cup double in 14 years as Demba Ba's spectacular strike secured an FA Cup quarter-final replay victory at Stamford Bridge.

Ba volleyed in a Juan Mata pass four minutes into the second half to send the holders into the semi-finals and deny runaway Barclays Premier League leaders United a Wembley clash with derby rivals Manchester City.

Petr Cech contributed to the victory with a stunning 61st-minute reflex save from Javier Hernandez as Rafa Benitez’s charges stayed on course for a fifth FA Cup triumph in seven seasons, with Man City their last-four opponents on 14 April.

For the Blues, beaten by Southampton in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday, it was a much needed fillip ahead of Thursday's UEFA Europa League tie with Rubin Kazan, while United, who appeared to be cruising into the last four with a 2-0 half-time lead at Old Trafford before Chelsea forced a replay, are left to focus on securing the Premier League title after their hopes of a first FA Cup win since 2004 and a first double since the 1999 treble-winning season were dashed.

Both sides made seven changes for their second game in three days and the opening 20 minutes were even before the impressive Eden Hazard fashioned an opportunity for Ba to shoot, only for the striker to be denied by the feet of David de Gea.

At the other end Nani shot narrowly wide from long range before Hazard and Mata combined and the Belgian fired over. Hernandez then had Cech in difficulty after 41 minutes when De Gea's long kick found the Mexican, who unleashed a swerving 25-yard shot which wrong-footed Cech, although the goalkeeper got a boot to the ball.

The stalemate was broken early in the second half when Mata was allowed the time to carve out Ba's fifth Chelsea goal. The Spaniard lofted the ball over the top of the United defence for the Senegal striker to steal in behind Rio Ferdinand and volley acrobatically over De Gea.

With 29 minutes to go United thought they had equalised when Hernandez met a Danny Welbeck cross, but Cech made a stunning save to palm the ball over. Had the ball hit Hernandez's head, rather than shoulder, United would have been level. ‘Chicarito’ could only smile ruefully.

Chelsea responded with Mata shooting into the side-netting before Hazard intercepted a loose Michael Carrick pass but dragged his shot across goal.

It was an uncharacteristic miss and a let-off for United, who werealso relieved when Mata and Oscar shot wide. After 88 minutes Sir Alex Ferguson's side again had the opportunity to force extra-time when Ashley Young fed Patrice Evra, who pulled back a cross for Robin van Persie, only for the Dutch substitute to fire over.

With the game now stretched Mata shot at De Gea at one end before Van Persie headed over Young’s cross at the other. It was to prove a frustrated United side’s last opportunity.

FA Cup semi-finals

13 April
Millwall v Wigan Athletic, Wembley Stadium

14 April
Chelsea
v Manchester City, Wembley Stadium

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Key Points

  • Chelsea reach FA Cup semi-finals with victory over Manchester United
  • Demba Ba produces spectacular winner in 1-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge
  • Blues to face Manchester City in semi-finals at Wembley Stadium