Tuesday, March 19, 2024

FA Cup

There will be no quadruple for Liverpool in Manager Jurgen Klopp’s farewell season. Manchester United eliminated their rivals from the FA Cup with a dramatic 4-3 victory at Old Trafford on Sunday. A wild back and forth match saw the Red Devils’ Ahmad Diallo score the winner in stoppage time of extra time. Little in the way of defense was played by either side. Manchester United Manager Eric ten Hag was even playing midfielder Bruno Fernandes and winger Antony together in the Red Devils’ back line during extra time as both teams committed to relentless attack. Each side had the lead twice in the match. Harvey Elliott’s goal in the 105th minute of play looked like it might be the winner for Liverpool, but Marcus Rashford equalized for Manchester United at the 112-minute mark. Diallo’s dramatic winner would then bring a rare smile to the face of ten Hag as the embattled manager greatly improved his job security, at least till season end, with the win over a hated rival. His counterpart Klopp, meanwhile, was at his surliest as he berated a reporter and stormed out of his presser after the match.

Sunday’s other FA Cup match also provided rollercoaster moments as Chelsea defeated Leicester 4-2. Despite advancing, Chelsea once again riled its unhappy fan base. The Blues were comfortably ahead by two goals in the 51st minute of play when Chelsea defender Axcel Disasi inexplicably shot the ball into his own net from distance, a back pass to an absent goaltender gone horribly wrong. Leicester would seize momentum and score an equalizer to force extra time. Chelsea fans were understandably less than thrilled entering that extra period. Raheem Sterling missed a first half penalty which would have given Chelsea full command of the match as the far better penalty taker, Cole Palmer, stood idly by and Manager Mauricio Pochettino made no move to have the right player take the chance. Pochettino would again do nothing as Sterling later stepped forth to take an opportune free kick from the edge of the box and sent it into the stratosphere. Chelsea supporters loudly voiced their displeasure when Pochettino initially substituted for Mudryk, leaving Sterling on the pitch and then when Chelsea’s senior disappointment was ultimately taken off the field. Pochettino got some redemption when substitutes Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke scored in extra time to send Chelsea into the semifinals. A red card reducing Leicester to ten men in the 73rd minute was no small factor in sending the Blues through.

Awaiting Chelsea at Wembley will be Manchester City which rode a Bernardo Silva brace to a 2-0 victory over Newcastle on Saturday. The Citizens became the first club to advance to an FA semifinal in six consecutive seasons as they enjoyed an easy stroll past a Magpies side that managed just a single shot on target in a passive submission.

The fourth semifinalist will be Coventry after the Championship tier side dumped Wolverhampton out of the competition on Saturday. US international Haji Wright scored in the 10th minute of stoppage time to upset Wolves at Molineux Stadium. Coventry Manager Mark Robins will now face the team he once played for, Manchester United, in the semifinals as his club bids to become the first side from outside the topflight since 1980 to win an FA Cup. 

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