FA Cup Semi Final
Sunday 14 April 2013, 16.00 KO
City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Barry, Y Toure, Milner, Nasri (Lescott 87), Aguero, Tevez (Garcia 73)
Unused: Hart, Kolarov, K Toure, Sinclair, Dzeko
Goals: Nasri (35), Aguero (47)
Booked: Barry, Y Toure, Kompany
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: Gareth Barry
It was a cagey start to the game, but it was City who were able to get the ball down and get into the match the quicker. After just five minutes, Yaya Toure slid the ball into Aguero on the left side of the Chelsea box and his effort slammed into the side netting. From a corner, Barry had an effort but it found Toure, who had a go himself, redirecting it towards goal. It looked comfortable for Cech, until Aguero flicked it towards the corner and it took a great save from the goalkeeper to prevent the ball hitting the net.
Tevez had a shot well saved at the near post, before Aguero managed to get in behind and it took a great recovery from Ivanovic to block the Argentine’s fierce effort, before Cech’s gloves were needed.
From a free kick, Chelsea almost opened the scoring. Pantilimon came for the cross, but didn’t get there and it was cleared only as far as Hazard on the edge of the area. His volleyed shot bounced down into the ground and over the goalkeeper, but Kompany was on the line to head it away. It was a warning shot for the blues.
And that was the wake-up call they needed. Yaya Toure picked the ball up mid-way into the Chelsea half and he drove towards the box. He slipped it in for Nasri, who tried to square it for Tevez, but the pass was blocked straight back to the Frenchman. One-on-one with Cech, he found the back of the net with a side-footed finish. City had the lead.
A couple of minutes later, it should have been two. Aguero was found by Milner inside the box and he tried to get his shot away, but couldn’t make a clean connection and Cech saved. It bounced straight back to Milner and, after taking a touch to control, he unleashed an effort for the bottom corner, but it was blocked behind the goalkeeper by Aguero, in an offside position.
On the stroke of half time, City wasted another good chance to double their lead, as a Chelsea free kick broke down completely. It was given away in City’s left back position and Milner steamed away with the ball. He shot at Cech’s near post, despite there being three unmarked men in blue shirts in the middle. It was spilled to the back post where Kompany side-footed wide, with the goal at his mercy. It was a horrible miss.
City made up for their slackness in front of goal in the opening minutes of the second half. A free kick from deep was rolled into Tevez and, via Milner, it found Barry on the right flank. He crossed to the back post, where Aguero had peeled from Ivanovic and headed to the top corner. Cech didn’t move, as it hit the post and dropped over the line. It was a brilliant goal.
Chelsea’s response was slow to arrive, though they did begin to grow into the game without testing Pantilimon. With just over 65 minutes played, they changed shape, bringing Torres on to join Ba up front. And the effect was immediate, as the ball bounced to Ba following Torres’s challenge with Kompany, and his swivel and shot flicked the post on its way into Pantilimon’s net. It was the first goal he’d conceded in the FA Cup this season and Chelsea were right back into the game.
The Romanian soon became heavily involved and he proved he was up to the challenge. Mata found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper after Nastasic’s tackle fell kindly for the Spaniard, but as he tried to go round Pantilimon, the City keeper got two hands on the ball and pushed it away. A minute later, Clichy was fouled by Hazard on the edge of the six-yard box, but it wasn’t given and the Belgian squared for Ba to shoot. It took a brilliant reflex save from Pantilimon to keep it out – and he recovered to pounce on the rebound.
Soon enough, the momentum had swung Chelsea’s way. Luiz had a free kick that was inches wide, before Aguero was lucky to stay on the pitch after stamping on the Brazilian with two feet in a challenge on the halfway line. The referee didn’t see it, but if he had, it would have been a red card. Torres was then denied a clear penalty, as Kompany had a fistful of the Spaniard’s shirt to prevent him going in on a one-on-one.
With a backs-to-the-wall finish for City, the blues held firm and confirmed their place in the final to face Wigan.