The two remaining undecided F.A Cup 5thRound ties were played to a finish this week at St. Andrews and White Hart Lane respectively. This is a brief round-up of the action, as four teams vied with each other to reach the quarter finals of the most prestigious domestic cup competition in Europe.
Chelsea travelled to St. Andrews on Tuesday evening, looking to book safe passage to the 6th round against a Birmingham City side who boast an excellent home record this season. The Londoners, under temporary boss Roberto di Matteo, were keen to avoid an embarrassing exit against the Championship side, in a bid to salvage a season that has, undoubtedly, been their worst for some time.
The first half was a fairly even, if uninspiring, affair, the hosts giving nothing away at the back, and in fact, coming closest to taking the lead through Nicola Zigic’s header, which forced Cech into a fabulous fingertip save. After the break, the visitors looked more assured in their play, and took the lead in the 54th minute; Ramires’ marauding run and cross eventually finding Mata, who was there to slot home.
Buoyed by their advantage, Chelsea began to dictate the play, and, five minutes later, they were 0-2 up. Ivanovic did well on the right hand side, before crossing to Ramires, whose deft lay-off to Mereiles, allowed the former Liverpool man to crash home a first time, right-footed effort from the edge of the box. Ten minutes later di Matteo’s men were awarded a penalty for a foul on Torres. Mata stepped up to take it, but could only manage a tame effort, which Doyle kept out with relative ease. The miss made little difference however, as Chelsea ran out comfortable 0-2 winners.
Tottenham welcomed, near neighbours, Stevenage to the Lane on Wednesday night determined to arrest their recent, poor Premier League form, by dispatching their League One opponents. Stevenage, who’d given Spurs a real test in the initial game, were looking to pull off one of the biggest F.A. Cup shocks of modern times.
Remarkably, it was the team from the lower leagues who took an early lead; Ryan Nelson’s clumsy tackle on Joel Byrom earning the visitors a fouth minute penalty, which Byrom rose to take himself, and duly scored, sending Cudicini the wrong way. Stevenage then took the game to Tottenham, and were good value for their lead until the 25th minute, when, Gareth Bale’s long ball was controlled by Jermain Defoe 25 yards from the Stevenage goal, the veteran striker then did what he does best, rifling a powerful shot into the bottom corner from just outside the box.
Bale was again involved in Tottenham’s second in the 55th minute. The Welshman burst into the box, and was adjudged to have been fouled by Mark Roberts; Adebayor confidently buried the spot-kick to give the home side a 2-1 lead. Defoe sealed the victory for Spurs fifteen minutes from time. Gareth Bale’s quick thinking from a throw caught the Stevenage defence napping, and Defoe, cut inside the defender and curled a delightful finish into the far corner; 3-1 Tottenham. Worryingly for the Premier League club, they had Michael Dawson stretchered off, he’s since been ruled out for the rest of the season, and Aaron Lennon limped out of the action, he looks to be side-lined for a couple of weeks at least.
F.A. Cup Quarter Final Draw
Liverpool vs Stoke City
Chelsea vs Leicester City
Everton vs Sunderland Athletic
Tottenham Hotspur vs Bolton Wanderers
Ties will be played on the weekend of the 17th/18th March.