The FA Cup: Weekend Triple Treat
The FA Cup might have lost its charm and may not be as glamourous as it was during the 70’s. But with a few tweaks, we could make it enjoyable again. This weekend we got to witness some of the most unpredictable matches ever. Following is a report on how the teams that got chosen for the quarter finals performed, who earned a spot at Wembley and who all are being sent back home.
Bolton Wanderers vs Birmingham City
Birmingham City got down to Bolton Wanderers with a scoreline of 2-3 in the Quarter Final stages of the FA Cup at St. Andrews, Birmingham. Birmingham City, being the Champions of the Carling Cup, have been playing extremely well lately. Bolton on the other hand, have been playing good football throughout the season. The kickoff was at 12:45 pm. Both teams looked weak defensively, but when Bolton attacked it looked like they might score at any moment. The Bolton Wanderers bagged their first goal at the 21st minute when Klasnic flicked through to Elmander who lashed the ball into the bottom left corner.
Unfortunately for Birmingham, Barry Ferguson had to excuse himself out of the game due to his broken rib. However at the 38th minute, Wheater passed the ball to Jerome who pinged a cracking finish into the bottom left corner of the goalpost, fetching Birmingham their first goal for the evening. At the 65th minute, Davies converted a penalty planting the ball down the middle as Ben Foster dived to his left. Another goal for Bolton! With just 10 minutes left, Kevin Philips scored a stunning equaliser which made the game even more interesting. But at the 90th minute, Bolton managed to book their entry in the semi-finals at Wembley when Curtis Davies was clever enough to pass the ball to Lee Chung-Yong, who striked a late goal, with Foster helplessly watching the Bolton celebrate their victory.
Stoke City booked their place at the semi-finals of FA Cup, Wembley at Britannia Stadium against West Ham with 2-1. The opening goal, on 12 minutes, was a classic Stoke City goal with Rory Delap, known for his smashing throws ins, flung in a long throw, followed by Robert Huth scoring an eccentric goal. At the 30th minute, West Ham scored a controversial goal, when Hitzlsperger passed the ball to Piquionne, who lifted the ball over the Stoke goalkeeper Sorensen and into the goalpost! Stoke complained that he used his arm to control the ball. At the 63rd minute, with the ball right at the edge of the box, Danny Higginbotham literally smashed it through the wall. West Ham goalkeeper R. Green got a decent hand on it and the ball rolled in off the post! Stoke City are off to Wembley to play against Bolton Wanderers at the sem-finals.
Manchester City vs Reading
Machester City defeated Reading with one goal to nil at Eastlands and will face their arch-rivals Manchester United at Wembley in the semi final. It was Micah Richards who stormed into the defense area of Reading, at the 74th minute, to score the only goal of the game, sending Man City to the sem-finals after 30 years. In 1981, they had defeated Ipswich Town to reach the finals of FA Cup, only to lose to Tottenham Hotspurs. City and Reading have been drawn twice together. Even though City performed very sluggishly and in a bad-tempered way, they somehow managed to win. At one stage referee Lee Probert pointe d Carlos Tevez to the word ‘respect’ on his captain’s armband after a particularly childish encounter.
Finally, the top four that will be playing the semi-finals at Wembley are Man Utd vs Man City and Bolton Wanderers vs Stoke City. On the basis of the results of the quarter finals, the prediction for the finals would be Manchester United against Bolton Wanderers, followed by a predictable victory for the Red Devils. They have been in a position to bag the titles of the EPL, the Champions League as well as the FA Cup. Chelsea managed to bag the title last year against Portsmouth at the finals with 1-0, unfortunately they are nowhere to be seen this time.