Pedro Halts Slide, Sends Chelsea Into FA Cup Semi-Finals

 chelsea

Pedro Rodriguez came off the bench to halt Chelsea’s slide with an extra-time winner in a 2-1 victory at Leicester on Sunday to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

Alvaro Morata’s first goal since Boxing Day on his return to the Chelsea starting line-up put the visitors on course to bounce back from their Champions League elimination at the hands of Barcelona in midweek.

However, Jamie Vardy’s equaliser 15 minutes from time made them do it the hard way in an extra 30 minutes.

Yet, for all Antonio Conte’s complaints this season about his side’s strength in depth, the Italian was able to call on Pedro to turn the game in Chelsea’s favour when he headed home former Leicester favourite N’Golo Kante’s cross.

Chelsea had lost three of their past four matches to fall behind in the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League as well as their European exit.

But victory does at least keep their chances of silverware to end the season alive.

Chelsea will meet Southampton in the last four, while Manchester United face Tottenham Hotspur for a place in the final.

Both Morata and Pedro had a point to prove after being left out of the Spain squad on Friday just three months ahead of the World Cup.

Morata was recalled for just his second start since the sides last met in a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge back in January.

And after a quiet start, Chelsea’s club record £70 million buy from Real Madrid was presented with his first big chance of the afternoon when he was brilliantly picked out by Marcos Alonso’s low cross, but his shot was far too close to Kasper Schmeichel.

Morata ends drought

Morata headed another half-chance from a teasing Willian crossover and then hit the outside of the post from the narrowest of angles.

The goal he craved finally arrived three minutes before half-time, but much of the credit must go to Willian who surged through the heart of the Leicester midfield on the counter-attack before feeding Morata.

And Morata coolly clipped the ball beyond the advancing Schmeichel with an assuredness unbefitting of a striker who had gone 13 games without a goal.

Despite going in front, Conte still withdrew Tiemoue Bakayoko at half-time after another awful 45 minutes for the Frenchman in a desperately disappointing debut season in English football following a £40 million move from Monaco.

The visitors were happy to take their chances on the counter-attack in the second period as they began to feel the after-effects of their run around at Barcelona in midweek.

Leicester’s search for an equaliser was largely laboured and, even when a big chance did arise, Vardy headed wastefully over when completely unmarked inside the area.

However, the England international made amends 15 minutes from time when he forced the ball home at the third attempt after Vicente Iborra’s first two efforts were blocked and then saved by Willy Caballero.

Only a fine low save from Caballero prevented Vardy from turning the tie completely around eight minutes later as both sides settled for the extra time.

Crucially, Conte was able to refresh his side as Pedro, Gary Cahill and Olivier Giroud were all introduced in the first half of extra time.

And it was Pedro who proved the match-winner in unfamiliar fashion as he rose to outjump Schmeichel and nod into an unguarded net.

AFP

Chelsea Beat Man. United At Stamford Bridge

Courtesy: http://www.manutd.com
Courtesy: http://www.manutd.com

Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, got the better part of Jose Mourinho for the second time this season, as Chelsea beat Manchester United 1- 0 at Stamford Bridge to qualify in the FA Cup semi-finals on Monday.

N’Golo Kante’s 51st minutes goal was enough for Conte’s double chasing side to break United’s resistance after the visitors had Ander Herrera sent off after 35 minutes for a second yellow card.

Mourinho’s frustration boiled over and both managers had to be separated after an angry exchange shortly after Herrera’s send off.

United, were missing the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic and injured Wayne Rooney and offered little threat once Kante had beaten David de Gea with a precise low shot.

Chelsea could have won by more, although United did have their moments and came close to an equaliser in the second half, when Marcus Rashford was foiled by keeper Thibaut Courtois.

The Blues would now face Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-finals at Wembley.

Liverpool to recall young shot stopper from loan

Liverpool will recall youngster  from a loan spell at Hull City to help them cope with a goalkeeping shortage ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal against Everton.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will have to field third-choice Brad Jones in the all-Merseyside clash at Wembley Stadium because both of his senior keepers are suspended.

But he dismissed talk of a crisis following the 3-2 win at Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday. “We don’t have a problem going in with any players, no problem whatsoever,” he told reporters.

Kulacsi, a 21-year-old Hungarian who joined Liverpool five years ago but has never made a first team appearance, has spent time on loan at Hereford United, Tranmere Rovers and Hull.

“Goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi is set to be recalled from his loan spell with the Tigers by parent club Liverpool,” Hull said on their official Twitter feed on Wednesday.

Liverpool’s first choice keeper Spaniard Pepe Reina is suspended after being sent off at Newcastle United in a Premier League game on April 1.

Back-up Alexander Doni, who made his long-awaited debut against Aston Villa on Saturday, is banned after the Brazilian was shown a red card at Blackburn.

Jones, who came on after 26 minutes following Doni’s departure, is a 30-year-old Australian international.

However, until his appearance on Tuesday Jones had only played twice for Liverpool in the League Cup and Europa League since joining from Middlesbrough. The last of those two appearances was in December 2010.

He had a mixed night against Rovers.

Jones saved Ayegbeni Yakubu’s penalty with his first touch but was at fault for conceding another spot kick from which Yakubu equalised. His blushes were spared when Andy Carroll headed home in stoppage time to give Liverpool a 3-2 win.

“It was a great first contribution (from Jones) in the Premier League to save a penalty, I am sure he will remember that,” said Dalglish.

Jones said the penalty save was in memory of his son Luca, who died from leukaemia in November. His girlfriend gave birth to a son Nico Luca a week ago.