As my friend Dirk Vale pointed out at the beginning of the season, the FA Cup is for the smaller teams in English football:
Saturday April 13th 2013
Millwall vs Wigan
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Beevers, Lowry, Jack Smith, Abdou, St. Ledger, Henry, Keogh, Chris Taylor. Subs: Maik Taylor, Trotter, Hulse, Tyson, Batt, Adam Smith, Osborne.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Beausejour, Alcaraz, Boyce, Figueroa, McManaman, McCarthy, Scharner, Maloney, Kone, Gomez. Subs: Robles, Caldwell, Di Santo, Henriquez, McArthur, Espinoza, Stam.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
The Premier league outfit dominated this match from the outset. Wembley, England’s showcase stadium, was half empty and to be honest the neutrals, rightly so, probably didn’t expect much from the game. It was always going to be tough for Milwall who are struggling in the Championship and have not scored in the three previous meetings with Wigan. April 13th was to be no different.
Millwall lost the match 2 – 0. Two fantastic goals really, a neat half-volley from Mahoney and a good bit of team play started by Kone and finished by McManaman side footing the ball past Forde.
The match won’t be remembered for the football though as fighting broke out among the Millwall fans. You can read an eyewitness account here, I won’t bore you with the details.
Let’s move swiftly on to Sunday’s match:
Sunday April 14th 2013
Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Bertrand; Ramires, Mikel; Hazard, Mata, Oscar; Ba. Subs: Turnbull, Terry, Ake, Lampard, Benayoun, Moses, Torres.
Manchester City: Pantilimon; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Yaya Toure, Barry; Milner, Tevez, Nasri; Aguero. Subs: Hart, Kolo Toure, Lescott, Kolarov, Garcia, Sinclair, Dzeko.
Referee: Chris Foy.
Easily titled as the “Battle of the Chequebooks” the 2nd Semi-Final promised so much but didn’t really deliver too much substance.
Nasri returned to scoring ways with a well worked, if fortunate ricochet, that landed at his feet in a goal box melee. The finish was class as he side footed it past Cech into the top corner. Well-deserved 1-0 after City had dominated the game from the first whistle. Chelsea struggled to adapt to the pace of the game and were on the back foot as a result throughout the first half, a possible effect of the schedule of playing 6 games in 16 days.
The second half didn’t start any better for the Blues as Aguerro rose to meet what looked like an errant cross at first to beat Cech with an incredibly placed header. The Chelsea keeper ‘s feet rooted to the spot as the ball looped into the net.
The second City goal seemed to wake up the Chelsea team who hoped to repeat the superb come from behind type of performance that saw them eliminate City’s Manchester rivals, United, in the previous round. Benitez shuffled his cards and played Torres, who has found his goal scoring touch of late. It wasn’t Torres who handed Chelsea a lifeline though, instead, Chelsea’s latest purchase, Demba Ba scored a sensational goal, holding off both centre backs and twisting his body to volley in off the post. Chelsea would create a number of chances after the goal but were unable to convert their dominance into more goals, while City waited for the loose ball to try and counter. City had numerous opportunities to put the tie to bed in the final minutes as Chelsea pressed forward but comical errors and poor decisions meant City were unable to add to their two goals.
City committed some horrendous fouls and got away with murder in the match, none more horrific than the blatant two-footed stamping on Luiz by Aguerro. Something he can still be cited for, as Chris Foy awarded a free kick during the game, but showed no cards (It depends on his report). Have a look at the tackle here.
Toure twice tried to trip an opponent that had already beaten him and was carded for the second offense, Zabaleta, a temperamental player at best, is another who miraculously managed to go unpunished for the sheer volume of poor tackles, while Kompany, by contrast was booked for a completely legitimate tackle.
In summary, City and Wigan deserved their wins, Millwall fans behaved like drunk idiots and City should perhaps have finished the game with only 8 players on the field
City still have a mathematical chance at landing the double, while Mancini is playing his mind games with Martinez, it’s probably safe to say the organisers can put light blue ribbons on the FA Cup, that “trophy for the smaller teams in English football”.