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FA Cup

Last-gasp Casemiro Sets Up United For Liverpool Clash –

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Last-gasp Casemiro Sets Up United For Liverpool Clash -

 

  • summary
  • United beat Forest to set up Liverpool quarter-final
  • Danns and Koumas on target for Liverpool against Southampton
  • Chelsea’s Gallagher scores 90th-minute winner against Leeds

Feb 28 (Reuters) – Brazilian Casemiro struck late to send Manchester United into the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest as teenagers Jayden Danns and Lewis Koumas inspired Liverpool to a 3-0 win over Southampton on Wednesday.

Chelsea overcame second-tier Leeds United 3-2 thanks to Conor Gallagher’s 90th-minute winner, easing the pressure on coach Mauricio Pochettino, and Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 thanks to Mario Lemina’s early goal.

United kept alive their last hope of lifting a trophy in a difficult season for the 12-times FA Cup winners when the 32-year-old Casemiro headed in a low bouncing free kick from Bruno Fernandes from close range, setting up an enticing quarter-final meeting with Liverpool.

United manager Erik Ten Hag and his team held their breath through a lengthy VAR check for offside before the goal was confirmed to the delight of the United fans at the City Ground.

“We scored in the right moment,” Ten Hag told the BBC. “Every win is important. This team, what they showed today, that’s great. They have to show it every game.”

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The goal was reminiscent of Mark Robins’ famous stooping header against Forest in 1989 which secured victory for United in a crucial FA Cup tie that helped save manager Alex Ferguson’s job.

Ten Hag’s side are sixth in the Premier League and last weekend’s loss to Fulham left their hopes of a top-four finish and Champions League berth hanging by a thread.

“It was an important game for us to win,” keeper Andre Onana told the BBC. “I’m happy. We worked hard and this was our reward. At Manchester United you must win. It was a difficult game against a good opponent.”

Three days after Liverpool’s young side beat Chelsea 1-0 to win the League Cup final, Danns struck twice with his first goals for the senior side and Koumas scored on his first-team debut.

“I couldn’t be happier today. Today is the best day of my life,” Danns said. “I’ve watched Liverpool since I was a young boy and to score at the Kop End is more than a dream. I couldn’t be happier.”

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Koumas, the 18-year-old son of former Wales international Jason Koumas, scored just before halftime, receiving a superb pass from Bobby Clark before shooting into the bottom corner via a deflection off Jack Stephens.

Danns, who is also 18, netted his first in the 73rd minute when he dinked the ball over keeper Joe Lumley, and scored again 15 minutes later after pouncing on a loose ball.

With injuries to key players including Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp fielded a young team against Southampton — 23 spots below them in England’s football pyramid.

“It was an incredible game. It was so intense and they ran themselves into the ground, we needed to find a way and we did that,” Klopp told ITV.

“The whole situation is horribly difficult,” he added about the team’s injuries. “Any positive mood around the changing room and training room, we accept we’re in a difficult moment and try and find solutions. It’s great to be in the quarter-finals and we don’t take these things for granted.”

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CHELSEA CHANCE

For Chelsea, struggling in mid-table in the league, the FA Cup is their last realistic chance of silverware.

The Premier League side were shocked in the eighth minute when Leeds took the lead after a defensive mix-up playing out from a goal kick allowed Mateo Joseph to score his first senior goal.

Chelsea replied with two goals from flowing moves in the 15th and 37th minutes and fine finishes by Senegal’s Nicolas Jackson and Ukrainian Mykhailo Mudryk.

Leeds upped the intensity in the second half and were rewarded in the 59th minute as a free header from the unmarked Joseph flew past Chelsea keeper Robert Sanchez.

Pochettino brought on Gallagher and Ben Chilwell as well as top scorer Cole Palmer in the second half and the move paid off. With extra time looming, Gallagher latched on to a pass from Argentine midfielder Enzo Fernandez before shooting home to take Chelsea into the last eight.

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Pochettino called the win a “big relief”.

“It is difficult because of the expectations,” he told ITV. “The expectation is massive because we are Chelsea but this team needs to build and build the confidence. The unity is starting to grow, it’s not magic, you can’t just create it.”

Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United over the weekend of March 16, champions Manchester City host Newcastle United, Chelsea play Leicester City and Wolves take on Coventry City.

-Reuters

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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FA Cup

Man United escape into FA Cup final after surviving Coventry scare

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Manchester United scraped into the FA Cup final on penalties despite throwing away a three-goal lead against Championship side Coventry in an epic semi-final at Wembley.

The final match in May will now be a repeat of last year’s.

Coventry, a Championship side, gave Premier League’s Manchester United what could be biggest scare they ever had.

It all looked like it was going to be an easy game for United after an half time two goal lead. A third goal was put in the third mid-way into the half time before a twist ensued.

Manchester United only took the game into penaty shoot-out because Coventry City’s Victor Torp’s effort in injury time in extra time was ruled out for offside by video assistant referee Peter Bankes.

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But after Bradley Collins saved United’s first kick, from Casemiro, Andre Onana denied Callum O’Hare, then unsettled Ben Sheaf with some verbal jousting – and the Coventry captain missed – allowing Rasmus Hojlund to win it.

What the watching United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe made of it would be interesting to know. Thirty-four years ago, Mark Robins’ goalscoring heroics in the FA Cup kept Sir Alex Ferguson in a job. Who knows what damage Robins’ Coventry side have done to Erik ten Hag’s chances of keeping his?

United thought they were cruising to a repeat of last season’s final with neighbours Manchester City when they led 3-0 thanks to goals from Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes.

But in front of Ratcliffe, who had completed the London Marathon earlier in the day, co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer and new technical director Jason Wilcox, United imploded and Coventry took full advantage.

After Ellis Simms and O’Hare reduced the deficit, Haji Wright kept his nerve in stoppage time to score from the spot and send the game into extra time.

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For a brief moment, Torp allowed delirious Coventry fans believe their team were coming back next month to try to emulate the Sky Blue heroes of their 1987 triumph over Tottenham.

It was not to be. But when it was all over, it was the Championship players who were taking the acclaim of their fans as Ten Hag and his players rather sheepishly made their way to the dressing rooms.

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FA Cup

Angry Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola lashes out at FA Cup schedule despite victory

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lashed out at the FA Cup schedule after his side beat Chelsea 1-0 to reach the final on April 20, three days after their treble bid was ended by defeat on penalties by Real Madrid in the Champions League.

A late goal by Bernardo Silva got holders City over the line, although they rode their luck against a Chelsea side who were punished for not taking the numerous chances they created.

Silva side-footed home in the 84th minute after Chelsea goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic parried a Kevin de Bruyne shot.

The Portuguese, who missed a penalty in the shoot-out defeat at home to Real, said he was “very happy after a very frustrating week for all of us, for me personally”.

“The good thing is in football, if you play at Man City, you play every three days, so after two to three days, you have a chance for a bit of revenge and to put things right.”

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City, who were without fatigued striker Erling Haaland, lacked their usual zip and, despite reaching another final, Guardiola was clearly agitated at his side’s lack of recovery time after the heartache of the Champions League exit on April 17.

“It’s unacceptable to let us play today,” Guardiola said. “It’s impossible, for the health of the players. It’s not normal. It’s unacceptable – 120 minutes, the emotions of Madrid, the way we lose, honestly.

“I know this country is special (with the FA Cup) but it’s for the health of the players. I don’t understand how we survived today.”

He could not fathom why City’s game against Chelsea was not scheduled for April 21 rather than Manchester United’s semi-final clash with second-tier Coventry City, neither of whom had to play a match in midweek.

“The only power I have I say here. Why don’t we play tomorrow? Chelsea, Manchester United, Coventry didn’t play midweek,” the Spaniard said.

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“Mentally so tough to recover. Rodri, the way he played today, Kyle (Walker), who was injured for a few weeks, I don’t understand how they survived.

“We want to play football, we love to play football, but it’s too much. We defend our trophy. We’ll be here.”

The exit to Real ended City’s hopes of a second straight treble, although they are still in the hunt for an English Premier League and FA Cup double.

Chelsea, whose last visit to Wembley ended in League Cup final defeat by a late Liverpool goal in extra time in February, squandered some of the best chances.

Senegalese Nicolas Jackson was particularly profligate.

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He had the first shot on target in the eighth minute but it was easily collected by Stefan Ortega in the City goal. Early in the second half, Jackson had two chances to put the ball away but Ortega intercepted both.

There were also opportunities for 21-year-old former City attacker Cole Palmer, who scored four goals against Everton in the league on April 15, and for Noni Madueke.

A last-gasp free kick from substitute Mykhailo Mudryk sailed over the bar, while Chelsea also had a penalty appeal turned down when Palmer’s free kick struck Jack Grealish’s hand in the wall but the video assistant referee ruled in City’s favour.

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino is keen for their disappointing season to end and start afresh after his side’s last hopes of silverware were extinguished. 

“Today we competed well. I cannot say we were the better side because that is difficult to measure. The most important thing is we competed,” he said.

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“We need to take positives from the game. This group needs these types of moments from games to improve.”

Reuters/ AFP

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Silva strikes late as Man City sink Chelsea to reach FA Cup final

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Manchester City s Bernardo Silva, center, celebrates on full time of the English FA Cup semifinal soccer match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Wembley stadium in London, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Manchester City won 1-0. AP

Bernardo Silva fired Manchester City back into the FA Cup final as the Portugal midfielder’s late strike sealed the holders’ 1-0 win against Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side were second best for long periods of the semi-final, but Chelsea wasted a string of chances before Silva delivered the knockout blow six minutes from full-time.

Shaken by their Champions League quarter-final loss against Real Madrid on penalties in midweek, City took a while to shake off the gloom from the end of their treble bid.

They were hampered by the absence of Norway striker Erling Haaland after he suffered a knock against Real, with Julian Alvarez unable to make an impact as his replacement.

City were bailed out by Chelsea striker Nicolas Jackson’s profligacy and Guardiola will hope the hard-fought success provides a timely lift as they chase a Premier League and FA Cup double.

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City face Manchester United or Coventry, who meet on Sunday, in the final on May 25 and will retain the Premier League title if they win their last six games.

It will be City’s 13th final in the competition and potentially a repeat of last year’s 2-1 win over United in the Wembley Manchester derby.

Beaten by Liverpool in the League Cup final in February, Chelsea’s wait to win their first domestic trophy since the 2018 FA Cup goes on for another season.

It was a bitter blow for Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino, who has endured a difficult first season in charge and remains without silverware in England.

The semi-final was billed as in-form Chelsea forward Cole Palmer’s chance to punish his old club for selling him to the Blues in September.

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Guardiola said Palmer was asking to leave City for two years before he eventually joined Chelsea, where he has scored 23 goals in all competitions this, including 11 in his last six games.

Palmer, who scored four times in Monday’s 6-0 rout of Everton, was a constant threat for Chelsea, but ultimately it was his team’s lack of killer instinct that proved decisive.

Guardiola relief

Palmer’s pin-point pass sent Jackson racing into the City area early on, but his strike lacked the accuracy to beat Stefan Ortega in a miss that foreshadowed Chelsea’s fate.

Jackson wasted a golden opportunity to give Chelsea the goal their dominance deserved.

Enzo Fernandez’s pass split the City defence, but Jackson opted to go around Ortega rather than shoot and the chance was gone as Nathan Ake scurried back to clear.

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Playing with more purpose and quality than City, Pochettino’s team threatened again as Palmer cleverly shimmied past Rodri for a low drive from 12 yards that was well saved by Ortega.

It was the first time lethargic City had failed to muster a first half shot on target since a game against Everton in February.

Jackson, in the midst of a terrible debut season, was put clean through on goal by Conor Gallagher immediately after the interval.

But the much-maligned striker’s shot was palmed away by Ortega, who clawed away a close-range header from Jackson seconds later.

City finally tested Djordje Petrovic through Phil Foden’s snap-shot, but the Serbian was equal to his powerful strike.

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Chelsea appealed in vain for a penalty when Jack Grealish’s arm blocked Palmer’s free-kick, while Moises Caicedo was fortunate to escape a second booking for a crunching tackle that forced Grealish to limp off.

Grealish’s replacement Jeremy Doku drew an immediate save from Petrovic with a near-post blast.

Doku’s presence lifted City and the Belgian played a part as they stole the victory in the 84th minute.

Advancing with intent towards the Chelsea area, Doku slipped a pass to Kevin de Bruyne, whose low cross was pushed out by Petrovic to Silva for a close-range finish that deflected home as Guardiola punched the air in relief.

-AFP

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