LONDON: Leicester City, four times runners-up but never winners of the FA Cup, upset Manchester United’s proud away-game record 3-1 to progress to a semi-final against Southampton.
United and second in the Premier League and their last away defeat was against RB Leipzig in the Champions League last December. The subsequent 13-game run was finally ended by the team one point and one place below them in the Premier League.
Leicester had won only one of their last 25 matches against United in all competitions. They thought their luck was changing after 24 minutes when United gifted them the lead. United blundered in playing out lazily from the back. Maguire played Fred into trouble and Kelechi Iheanacho seized possession to score.
This was Iheanacho’s fourth goal in as many games.
United, missing the injured Marcus Rashford, equalised in the 38th minute, Mason Greenwood, Rashford’s replacement, equalised with his fifth goal of the season from an assist by Paul Pogba and a clever dummy by Donny Van de Beek.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, having lost four semi-finals during his two years in charge, could now hope again about an opportunity to break the jinx.
Solskjaer’s hope did not last long. More defensive hesitancy provided Youri Thieleman with the time to reclaim Leicester’s lead early in the second half and Iheanacho headed the killing third goal.
Thomas Tuchel was not satisfied with his Chelsea team even though they defeated Sheffield United 2-0 to progress to the semi-finals of the FA Cup in which they will play Manchester City.
Chelsea will be appearing in the semis for the fourth time in five seasons.
Their record under Tuchel is exceptional. They have won 10 of their 14 games since he succeeded Frank Lampard. In that time only Manchester City (14) have won more matches in all competitions among all the clubs within the top five European leagues since his first game in charge.
But that has been achieved at a price in terms of fatigue for Chelsea who are eight times winners of the Cup and were runners-up last season.
Beating managerless Sheffield, bottom of the Premier League, was accomplished only with an own goal by Oliver Norwood after 24 minutes and a stoppage-time second from Hakim Ziyech.
Tuchel said: “It sounds excellent to say we’re through to the semi-finals but it was a tough match. We had a good first half but we lost control in the second half. After 14 consecutive matches I could feel we were tired.”
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti described Manchester City as “the best team in the world” after a 2:0 home defeat kept the quadruple dream alive for Pep Guardiola.
Goals in the last six minutes from Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne sent City into the semi-finals for the third successive season. The Premier League leaders have already reached the last eight of the Champions League and the League Cup Final against Tottenham on April 25.
City needed the second-half impetus of substitutes Riyad Mahrez and De Bruyne to secure a 25th victory in their last 26 games in all competitions.
Guardiola is rewarding himself with a football holiday during the international break. He said: “Since the last break we played 39 games, won 34, playing every three or four days with the same level of commitment and in every competition as if it were the last one.
“So for the next three, four or five days I will not think about football or watch games. Then, at the end of the first week we will start preparing for Leicester and Borussia Dortmund.”
Ancelotti said: “We competed well against the best team in the world at this moment. That is what I think they are – though Pep may not like to hear me say this.”
Ralph Hasenhuttl forgot, briefly, about Southampton’s slide down the Premier League by reaching the semi-finals with an easy 3:0 win away to second tier neighbours Bournemouth. Winger Nathan Redmond scored twice and provided an assist for Saints, who have lost 10 of their past 12 league games.
Hasenhuttl said: “I always said that there would be a moment when everything comes together.” Southampton’s earlier victims included Arsenal and Wolves.
The semi-finals are on the weekend of April 17-18 with the final at Wembley on May 15. It is hoped 20,000 fans will be able to attend.