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Saturday, 24 January 2015

The FA Cup - None like we have ever known.

A strange FA Cup weekend befell the footballing world as the top - notch in English football were humbled beginning with Manchester United who were held to a goalless draw by League two side Cambridge United , then followed by defeats for both Chelsea and Manchester City while Liverpool were also held to a goal draw by Championship side Bolton Wanderers. The Premier League leaders were stunned 4-2 by the League One Bantams at Stamford Bridge after appearing to be in control of the tie at 2-0 up. Mourinho caused a stir in the week by saying it would be a disgrace if they lost to Bradford, and he reaffirmed that belief after the match.
 “I repeat the word that I used yesterday in case we lost - it's a disgrace. A sporting disgrace, but it's a disgrace,” he said. "By one side this is the beauty of football, the beauty of the FA Cup. It happens more in the FA Cup than any other country. By another side I feel ashamed and I think the players should feel exactly the same as I feel.”
It was the first time Chelsea have lost to lower-league opposition at home for 20 years and ends their hopes of winning the quadruple this season. Liverpool on the other hand had their luck to thank as they escaped a scare from championship team Bolton Wanderers and 36 year old Eidur Gudjohnsen as they earned a replay following a goalless draw at home. Goalkeeper Adam Bogdan was Bolton's hero on the night, keeping out Philippe Coutinho's low drive and then Fabio Borini's effort from inside the area in the latter stages. Liverpool will now have to travel to Greater Manchester for a fourth-round replay next month. Neil Lennon started with Gudjohnsen and his 37-year-old striker partner Emile Heskey, returning to the club he once enjoyed a fruitful spell with between 2000 and 2004. Chances were few and far between in the first half, but Raheem Sterling nearly gave the hosts a lead after half an hour, seeing his effort from inside the area blocked well by Matt Mills. A few minutes later, Bolton went up the other end through Dean Moxey, who fired just wide on the half volley after the ball fell to him 25 yards out. The visitors should have been reduced to 10 men in the second period, but referee Kevin Friend decided not to penalise Mills, already on a booking, despite bringing down Lazar Markovic just outside the area. Liverpool had two quick-fire chances just before the hour mark; first Coutinho’s curling effort from 20 yards was parried away by Bogdan, then Javier Manquillo got ahead of Tim Ream to volley just wide from eight yards when he should have hit the target. Gudjohnsen then missed the first of his two chances from 15 yards after being found by Ream, side-footing wide of Simon Mignolet’s goal, before firing over a volley from Dorian Dervite’s centre with 23 minutes remaining. Reds substitute Fabio Borini was found clear inside the area by Coutinho on the counter attack, but his placed effort was superbly turned around the post by Bogdan, before Adam Lallana blazed over the bar after good work from Sterling and Coutinho. And Liverpool nearly grabbed the winner at the death, but Borini’s header went narrowly wide of Bogdan’s goal in injury time as Lennon’s side held on for a deserved replay. While at the Blue side of Manchester, City were being humbled by a middlesbrough side who capitalized on the recent bad run of City and the absence of Yaya Toure who is currently with his national team at the on going African Cup of Nations. Patrick Bamford’s goal in the early stages of the second half put Boro ahead and substitute Kike doubled the lead in stoppage time to take the Championship side into the last 16. Louis Van Gaal and his Man Utd squad might have been disappointed with their last night result with Cambridge United but after seeing results like this they will only look back and thank star for it.
Today's FA Cup 4th round result.  
Blackburn Rovers 3 - 1 Swansea City Birmingham City 1 - 2 West Bromwich Albion
 Cardiff City 1 - 2 Reading
Chelsea 2 - 4 Bradford City
 Derby County 2 - 0 Chesterfield
 Manchester City 0 - 2 Middlesbrough
 Preston North End 1 - 1 Sheffield United
 Southampton 2 - 3 Crystal Palace
 Sunderland 0 - 0 Fulham
 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - 2 Leicester City
 Liverpool 0 - 0 Bolton Wanderers

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