Both Manchester team went through, as did hard working Bolton and stoke city. Both Carling Cup finalists went out of the FA Cup, for Arsenal it was the third tournament they went out of where as Birmingham have the Carling Cup to help console them.
Manchester City 1 – Reading 0
Reading arrived at Eastlands without three of their first-choice back four but went out to continue to be the giant killer having beaten Premiership sides West Brom and Everton to reach the quarter finals. Jobi McAnuff was an early threat for City with Joleon Lescott clearing McAnuff’s dangerous low cross and later made a great run beating Shaun Wright-Phillips and Micah Richards. City had a good chance to score, but the offside flag prevented that attack from going anywhere. As the game progressed City seemed to lack any real conviction. City had their chances but stand in goalie, Alex McCarthy, made the saves to keep out Silva and Wright-Phillips. David Silva was soon taking charge of creating the chances and put in Yaya Toure, but McCarthy again was a man hard to beat, saving with his knees. Reading went in at half time still in the game, with the keeper to thank. Though City didnt seem the dangerous goal scoring team they can be.With second half under way Reading seemed like they wanted to sabotage all the hard work they had done in the first half when Shane long headed Kolarov corner goalwards with Jay Tabb clearing off the line. City came close to taking the lead when Wright-Phillips played in Tevez, but the poor pass forced Tevez into shooting early and the scuffed shot didnt trouble Reading. City did take the lead when Micah Richards headed in Silva’s corner. Silva’s corner was perfectly delivered and Richards lost his marker and then out-jumped Zurab Khizanishvili to power an unstoppable header past McCarthy. Reading tried their hardest to get a goal to give them a chance of reaching Wembley but even with pushing as many men forward as possible they were unable to cause City any damage and City finished the game winners 1-0. Manchester City fans will be dreaming of reaching the final and denying city rivals United to do so will be even more sweat for them, but they will be dreaming of their team winning the FA Cup, the first major trophy they will have won in over 30 years.
Stoke City 2 – Wet Ham 1
Stoke struck early and in true Stoke style with a strong powerful header from a long rocketed throw. Delap delivered the throw and Robert Huth delivered the header. With that trademark goal it seemed that today was not going to be west hams game but that goal didnt result from luck, but more from West Hams poor decision to leave a player like Huth unmarked when you know Delap is going to put a throw in like that. But in the remainder of the game, luck did swing both ways. You can say luck or poor refereeing, its your call. West Ham got themselves back in the game when Frederic Piquionne scored when he controlled hitzlsperger cross field pass. Stoke players and fans all called handball, but the referee and referee’s assistant unable to see it. Piquionne did well to round the keep and lift i over him, and had the strength to see of the defender and bundle it over the line, but Stoke were obviously upset by the decision. The first half ended 1-1 but 15 seconds into the second half Stoke were awarded a penalty for a foul on Etherington. Etherington had done brilliantly with some great trickery to weave his way through the box, but went down under no pressure, and the penalty that was awarded should not have been, as if it was against Parker, all he had was his hand on Etherington’s shoulder, and that was as he was already falling. Justice though came in the form of Green saving Higgingbottoms penalty with great diving save to his left. Higginbotham did though put his side back into the lead on the 63rd minute when he smashed home a free-kick. Again West Ham had themselves to blame for poor defending at they left two Stoke players into their wall who the acted like the red sea and parted to leave a gaping hole for Higginbotham to shoot into. West Ham may feel a little aggrieved as in the replay it showed that one of the stoke payers pulled hitzlsperger round and onto the floor to make more space, and maybe a free kick could have been given the hammers way. Nothing was given though and that goal was enough to see Stoke into the semi’s though West Ham battled them all the way, and almost scored but Matthew Upson’s header smacked against the crossbar, and may feel they battles the referee too, but if Stoke had lost they would have felt just the same.
Manchester United 2 – Arsenal 0
Arsenal continued their poor form and went out of yet another competition as they lost to Manchester United 2-0 at Old Trafford. Arsenal fans may have felt that with United midfield pairing of O’Shea and Gibson with the twin brother Rafael and Fabio da Silva on the flanks that they would stand more of a chance in the game, but in truth again Arsenal showed a lack of desire in comparison to their opponents. Fabio and Rafael thrived down the flanks, and linked up to start the more that gave them the first goal. Arsenal were on the attack but when the deflected shot landed in van der Sar’s hands he through it out to Fabio who put in a great throughball with the outside of his foot for twin brother Rafael on the right who returned it back to Fabio who passed it tow Rooney. Fabio continued moving forward and gambled, and when Rooney’s lofted pass was headed goalward by in form Hernandez, Almunia saved, but his parry put it in the path for Fabio to slide and put it into the roof of the net. Arsenal had chances to score but the retiring van der sar kept them out. van Persie ha d a curling shot saved by his fellow countryman and also had a header go wide. Van der Sar also kept out Nasri who did well to shot between Brown’s legs but van der sar got down low sharply to keep them out. Arsenal started the second half with intent but again van der sar was there to hinder arsenals chances. Laurent Koscielny who was up in attack and inside the opponents box cut-back the ball back but it hit off brown and forced Van der Sar into action and then when the ball ricocheted to Koscielny again, he shot well with a curling side foot effort but Van der Sar was up quick and denied him again. Rooney put an end to Arsenal’s fight back when he scored with a delicate header. Djourou deflected Rafeal’s cross and Rooney was quickest to the looping ball. The angle was acute but he positioned it beautifully and in crept in between Almunia and the post. With changes rung in by both sides seeing injured players coming back, with Valencia for United and Ramsey for Arsenal. Both had good games, but substitute Chamakh may have felt as if he could have done a little better as he had the chances to score, but was denied by Van der Sar but was also wasteful with a good headed opportunity. The game ended with more worries for Arsenal as Djourou went off injured with a dislocated shoulder which will see him out for the rest of the season.
Birmingham 2 – Bolton 3
Bolton and Birmingham both had chances to score first with Fabrice Muamba for Bolton and Curtis Davies for Birmingham. Elmander gave Bolton the lead when Muamba won the ball in the air and Klasnic flicked it on for Elmander who drilled it on betting Foster. McLeish was forced into action when he had to make two unwanted substitutes when Ferguson and Jiranek were replaced by Liam Ridgewell and Nathan Redmond. Cameron Jerome pulled Birmingham level when Wheater’s clearance came back into his path and he smashed it low to beat Bolton’s Jaaskelainen. With the second half underway Birmingham were soon calling for a penalty but only a corner was given. Bolton substitute Chung-Yong Lee cleared off the line from Murphy following a corner by Larsson. Bolton almost took the lead again when Davies put the ball in the net but was clearly offside, but Bolton fans didnt have to wait long before they were celebrating a goal. Kevin Davies was brought by Curtis Davies and Davies stepped up to take the penalty himself and send Foster the wrong way. Birmingham had not given up though and veteran Kevin Phillips almost scored for Birmingham but his shot beat Jaaskelainen but smashed against the post. Ben Foster then kept his side in it when he made a fine save to deny Elmander when he got clear of Bolton’s defence. Kevin Phillips again beat Jaaskelainen when he turned on the edge of the box and volleyed over the keep and this time the wood work wasnt there to deny him. But unfortunately that wasnt enough to see Birmingham get a replay as on the last minute of the game Bolton struck with Chung-Yong Lee heading in to send the Bolton into raptures. A dramatic game, won in dramatic style a true FA Cup tie.
Draw for the FA Cup Semi-Finals
Manchester City v Manchester United
Bolton v Stoke City