LONDON: Manuel Pellegrini could not have wished for better than to host Barcelona on Tuesday in the Champions League on Tuesday after, at the 10th attempt, having secured only his second beating of Jose Mourinho.
Manchester City’s 2-0 victory in the FA Cup fifth round was an important reversal of fortunes after Chelsea’s wins both home and away against City in the Premier League.
Pellegrini’s men thus remain on course for all four tournaments in which they began the season. They are also favourites to beat struggling Sunderland in next month’s League Cup Final.
Stevan Jovetic and Samir Nasri scored the goals in each half to rewarded Pellegrini’s revision of personnel and their duties.
Chelsea managed just three efforts at goal in the 90 minutes: off-target long shots from Willian and Cesar Azpilicueta and a late Gary Cahill header which was blocked.
Eden Hazard was stifled by a combination of Pablo Zabaleta and England midfielder as City’s usual 4-4-2 formation proved more effective for the demands of the match than Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1.
Mourinho tried to change the direction of the game at the break. He replaced Samuel Eto’o with £11m new arrival Mohamed Salah, but neither he or Fernando Torres, a later substitute, made any impact.
Pellegrini was grateful that stormy weather meant City’s midweek game against Sunderland was postponed while Chelsea had an awkward time achieving a draw at West Bromwich. Still, they held nothing back in terms of effort bearing in mind the looming Champions League clash.
Making amends for the recent league defeat at home to Chelsea was clearly a significant factor.
As captain Vincent Kompany said: “We wanted revenge. It’s a big win against a strong team. We love the FA Cup, I think this was a great game for the competition and we’re really happy with the result.”
Mourinho, not such a Happy One at Eastlands this time, had no excuses to offer, saying: “City played much better than us and deserved to win. Football is in peace when the best team wins. Two weeks ago the best team won and this time the best team won.”
Wigan do it again
Uwe Rosler’s FA Cup holders Wigan remained alive after winning 2-1 away at Premier League strugglers Cardiff.
Wigan, relegated last season, had already seen off top-flight opposition in Crystal Palace in the fourth round. They owed victory to first-half goals from Chris McCann and Ben Watson – , the man who scored the only goal in last season’s final victory over Manchester City.
Victory for Rosler was a poor thanks to Cardiff’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for helping him into English football. Solskjaer, who followed Rosler at Molde in Norway, had recommended Rosler to his previous club Brentford.
Rosler added: “We take it game by game. I felt very happy with the performance, the application. I thought our supporters, they travelled in big numbers. We made them proud, we wanted to make them proud.
“I wanted to compete against the best teams in the country and Cardiff today gave us the possibility, and we stood our own ground very well.”
Sunderland continued their transition into a ‘cup team’ as Craig Gardner’s stunning finish saw off fellow Premier League side Southampton 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.
Sheffield Wednesday’s fifth-round tie with Charlton was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Hillsborough.