Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Man City blank Chelsea to reach FA Cup quarterfinals

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MANCHESTER: Manchester City powered forward with ease into the FA Cup quarterfinals on Saturday, beating Premier League title rivals Chelsea 2-0 to maintain their quadruple chase.

Stevan Jovetic and Samir Nasri provided the goals to avenge a 1-0 league loss earlier this month against Chelsea, with a formidable City in complete control and preventing the visitors from hitting the target once.

Although Chelsea lead the league, City are only three points behind in third with a game in hand. City also remain in Champions League contention, and face Sunderland in the League Cup final next month.

Sunderland also advanced in the FA Cup on Saturday, with Craig Gardner clinching a 1-0 victory over Southampton.

Wigan maintained their cup defence by winning 2-1 at Cardiff, with Ben Watson, whose goal clinched the cup before the team was relegated from the top flight last May, netting the winner in south Wales.

In Sunday’s headline fixture in the fifth round, Arsenal host Liverpool in another meeting of Premier League title rivals.

With City hosting Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday, beating Chelsea showed the enviable depth of resources available at Manuel Pellegrini’s disposal.

Jovetic, who is only City’s fourth-choice striker, hit the woodwork in the 16th minute but the ball went over the line as City ripped through a Chelsea defence missing captain John Terry with ease.

David Silva played in Edin Dzeko, who sent the ball out for Jovetic to strike off the post into the bottom left. It was just Jovetic’s sixth goal since joining City in the offseason on a rare start.

Substitute Mohamed Salah didn’t help to transform Chelsea’s fortunes, and forward Fernando Torres was brought off the bench on the hour to replace Ramires, taking a central position as Salah shifted to the right.

But it was a City substitution that made a bigger impact as Nasri completed an incisive move to score six minutes after coming on to make his first appearance after a month on the sidelines.

After receiving the ball from Nasri, Silva squared it back to the Frenchman, who had continued his run to dart into space between defenders David Luiz and Gary Cahill, and slot the ball in from the close range. (AP

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