Chelsea enter FA Cup semis; City keep quadruple hopes alive - GulfToday

Chelsea enter FA Cup semis; City keep quadruple hopes alive


Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech scores a goal against Sheffield United during their FA Cup quarter-final match on Sunday. Associated Press

Chelsea joined Manchester City and Southampton in the FA Cup semi-finals as Oliver Norwood’s own goal and a late Hakim Ziyech strike sealed a 2-0 win against Sheffield United on Saturday.

Earlier on Saturday, City remained on course for a quadruple by beating Everton 2-0 in the FA Cup quarters.

Thomas Tuchel’s much-changed side were below their best at Stamford Bridge, but Norwood’s first half mistake put them on course to win a hard-fought quarter-final.

Hakim Ziyech netted in stoppage time as Chelsea joined Manchester City and Southampton in the April semi-finals at Wembley.

Leicester host Manchester United in the last quarter-final later on Sunday.

The Blues are back in the FA Cup semi-finals for a fourth time in the last five seasons after losing last year’s final against Arsenal.

Chelsea won the last of the club’s eight FA Cups under Antonio Conte in 2018.

Tuchel’s remarkable early impact since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard in January has turned Chelsea in a rock-solid defensive unit.

The German is now unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions, with Chelsea keeping 12 clean sheets in that period, including shutting out the opposition in their last seven matches.

Tuchel made nine changes after Chelsea’s Champions League last 16 second leg win against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Kepa Arrizabalaga started in goal, with Billy Gilmour, Olivier Giroud and Emerson among the others to come in.

All the switches left Chelsea struggling to find any rhythm in the early stages.

Despite their uncertain start, Chelsea took the lead in fortuitous fashion in the 24th minute.

Aaron Ramsdale couldn’t hold Callum Hudson-Odoi’s cross and Phil Jagielka scrambled it clear for a corner. When the corner curled out to Ben Chilwell on the edge of the area, the Chelsea left-back hit a low shot that Norwood turned into his own net as he stretched in a failed attempt to block it.

The hapless Norwood almost gifted Chelsea a second goal when his woeful pass was pounced on by Christian Pulisic, who raced through on goal but couldn’t find the finishing touch as he stumbled before Ramsdale saved his chip.

After his exuberant exhortations and celebrations caught the eye during the win against Atletico, Chelsea’s injured defender Thiago Silva was back urging his team on from the stands.

Meanwhile, with an unprecedented quadruple still a possibility for City, the pressure on Pep Guardiola is intensifying heading into the final two months of the season. So, as his superstar players head off around the world on international duty, the City manager is ready to switch off.

“This week,” Guardiola said, “I promise I will not think about football. I will not watch games.”

Few would begrudge him the break, with an intense 34-match, four-month stretch -- featuring games every three or four days -- concluding with a 2-0 win over Everton in the FA Cup quarterfinals on Saturday. The goals came late - through Ilkay Gundogan in the 84th minute and Kevin De Bruyne in the 90th - but there was a certain inevitability about them inside an empty Goodison Park.

Indeed, Guardiola’s players are sweeping all before them this season, having also reached the final of the English League Cup, the quarterfinals of the Champions League and forged a 14-point lead in the Premier League.

Extra time loomed when Gundogan stooped to head the ball into an empty net after a shot from marauding City defender Aymeric Laporte was tipped onto the bar by goalkeeper João Virgínia. It was the Germany midfielder’s 12th goal in all competitions in 2021, more than any other player in the Premier League.

De Bruyne, who started the match on the bench, ensured City’s progress to the last four with a goal in the 90th minute, running onto a pass by Rodri and switching the ball to his left foot before scoring with a composed finish.

REDMOND SHINES: Southampton made it to the last four for the second time in four seasons, with Nathan Redmond scoring twice and setting up another goal against Bournemouth.

Redmond slipped in Moussa Djenepo for the opener in the 37th then scored a superb solo goal in first-half stoppage time, dribbling into the area and skirting a challenge before firing a shot into the top corner.


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