The fifth round of the FA Cup saw five Premier League teams, two Championship sides and a Cinderella team from League One punch their tickets to the quarterfinals.
West Bromwich Albion 4 – 0 West Ham United
One of the few Premier League matchups in round of 16 saw Tony Pulis’ men completely dismantle the side from London from start to finish. West Brom were unlucky not to win the game by more as they dominated the scoring chances for the majority of the game. Paced by their Nigerian forward Brown Ideye, who knocked in a brace, midfielder James Morrison, who wowed the crowd with a wonder strike from range, and in-form striker Saido Berahino, who rounded out the romp with a goal in the 72nd minute.
West Ham’s best chance of the night came from a Diafra Sakho header that was cleared off the line when they were 3-0 down. The misfortune for Sam Allardyce’s side continued as substitute Morgan Amalfitano was shown a straight red card after lashing out against Chris Brunt in front of the official. This is the second straight game were West Ham have seen their numbers reduced to ten men.
Fans of the Hammers would have expected a much better showing from their team after an impressive performance against Manchester United in the League and an overall good run of form this season. West Brom managed to register a whopping 16 shots compared to West Ham’s seven. In the next round, the Baggies will travel to Aston Villa for a derby matchup.
Blackburn Rovers 4 – 1 Stoke City
Stoke City found themselves on the wrong side of a lopsided result against the team from the second division. It looked as if the Potters would dominate the match after Peter Crouch knocked them into the lead after just ten minutes. Chances continued to fall to Mark Hughes’ side and fans of Blackburn surely would have started to lose faith in any possible upset happening at Ewood Park.
All of those wasted chances would end up coming back to bite Stoke in the 36th minute as former Manchester United youngster Joshua King flicked home a corner to equalize for the Rovers. On the stroke of halftime, things turned from bad to worse for the top-division side as they saw defender Geoff Cameron get sent off after a rash challenge in the box that gave Blackburn a penalty kick. Striker Rudy Gestede stepped up and easily sent Jack Butland the wrong way to put the Potters down 2-1 going into the second half.
Blackburn opened up the scoring almost immediately after the restart as King again slotted home in the 50th minute. The Norwegian forward completed his dream day by scoring a third goal in the 55th to complete his hat trick. The team from Lancashire was unlucky not to put away more chances in the game, but the final whistle blew and Blackburn walked away with a 4-1 victory. In the next round, Blackburn faces another difficult test as they face-off against Liverpool at Anfield.
Reading 2-1 Derby County
This Championship matchup saw the 3rd and 16th place sides square up at the Ipro Stadium. Derby was unlucky not to go in front early on as they saw two great chances fly wide from close range. On the other side, a well-worked set piece play saw Simon Cox’s effort beat the goalkeeper but strike the post for Reading. The two teams continued to exchange chances in the first half, but the momentum shifted as Derby defender Stephen Warnock picked up his second yellow card and his marching orders in the 39th minute.
After countless chances in the first half, Hal Robson-Kanu finally struck a curling effort past a helpless Kelle Roos in the 53rd minute to put Reading up 1-0. The team with ten men struck back when veteran forward Darren Bent redirected a shot past Adam Federici in the 61st minute. Chances to break the deadlock fell to both teams and as the game dragged on, it seemed as if the two would meet again in a replay. Then, in the 82nd minute, former Everton striker Ayegbeni Yakubu struck the winner. Reading will now face the Cinderallas of the tournament Bradford City next round.
Liverpool 2-1 Crystal Palace
It was a shaky start for Liverpool at Selhurst Park as former Manchester United striker Frazier Campbell put Crystal Palace up 1-0 in the 15th minute. The visitors proceeded to pepper the Palace goal as the hosts looked comfortable to sit in and absorb the pressure. However, Simon Mignolet was forced into close range save to close out the first half.
Palace’s bend-don’t-break defense finally gave way in the 49th minute as Daniel Sturridge continued his fine run of form since his return earlier this year by slotting home the equalizer. The England striker has shown the league why the Anfield faithful were so excited for his return to the field. In the 58th minute, poor handling from Julian Speroni after a Mario Balotelli free kick led to an Adam Lallana goal to put the Reds up 2-1 with what would turn out to be the winning goal.
Aston Villa 2-1 Leicester City
Aston Villa’s 2015 has been infamous for its lack of goals, scoring only once in their first five games in the league. The Villains currently sit 18th in the table joining Leicester (20th) in the relegation zone. Last week, the team from the Midlands brought on former Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood in an effort to try and save the season and keep themselves in the top division.
The first half of the game gave Sherwood, who was watching from the stands, a clear glimpse at Villa’s problems this season. The team was spurning the few chances they had and veteran goalkeeper Shea Given was forced into wonder saves that reminded fans of his days with Manchester City. The Foxes from Leicester bombarded Villa’s goal with crosses and were unlucky to see an effort from Marcin Wasilewski strike the post. Belgian forward Christian Benteke thought that he had grabbed the lead before halftime only to see the goal get called back for offsides.
After the restart, Tim Sherwood’s new side looked like a new team. They pressed Leicester and swung in cross after cross. Benteke was unlucky not to put his side into the lead after his point blank effort was denied by Mark Shwarzer. In the 68th minute, Leandro Bacuna struck a lovely curled effort past the Australian goalkeeper to put Villa ahead. The game saw another Villa effort called back due to offsides, and Given again used his fingertips to prevent an amazing equalizing chance from the visitors. Scott Sinclair, a name that most fans haven’t heard since his big-money move to Manchester City in 2012, saw his effort get bobbled into the net in 89th minute to score what would end up to be the winning goal for the Claret and Blue.
Bradford City 2-0 Sunderland
Bradford City’s Cinderalla run in the FA Cup continued Sunday after they handed struggling Premier League side Sunderland a 2-0 defeat. Things did not start out well for the Black Cats in this matchup as they saw an unfortunate deflection off of John O’Shea fly into the net to put the Bantams ahead early in the 3rd minute. The first half saw the two sides exchange chances with no side clearly dominating the game.
The second 45 minutes saw a revitalized effort from Sunderland as they pushed forward in an effort to equalize. However, all of this momentum was for nothing as poor defensive passing at the back gifted Bradford a chance inside the 18-yard-box for Jon Stead to put away in the 61st minute. After going up by two goals, the League One side was able to ride out the few chances that Sunderland put together and advance to their first quarterfinal appearance since 1976.
Arsenal 2-0 Middlesbrough
The Middlesbrough team that shocked the world last round by defeating the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City was unable to recreate this magic against a formidable Arsenal side. The match was lopsided from start to finish as the Gunners dominated possession (69 percent to 31 percent) and created more than five times the amount of shots than their Championship opponent.
The first half saw Arsene Wenger’s side create countless scoring opportunities and Middlesbrough were lucky not to be down by more than two goals after the first 45. It took 27 minutes for the Gunners to find the back of the net from some well-worked passing play that found Olivier Giroud inside the six-yard box. It did not take long for the French forward to strike again as he slotted home from a corner kick in the 29th minute.
After the goals, it seemed as if everyone in the Emirates, including Middlesbrough, knew that Arsenal would be playing in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup. Chance after chance fell to the Premier League side and if it weren’t for some amazing saves from Tomas Mejias, Middlesbrough would have been on the end of a much steeper defeat. The dominant display will provide much needed momentum for the Gunners as they will travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in the next round.
Manchester United 3-1 Preston North End
Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United put in a very unconvincing performance against Preston North End to push them into the last eight of the FA Cup. The first half seemed to reflect United’s 2014-15 campaign as there seemed to be a lack of chemistry and finishing ability from the Red Devils. Fans would have expected more on the attacking front as Wayne Rooney moved up from his central-midfield role to play at his traditional striking position. The first half saw no goals and no clear cut chances for either of the sides.
It was a nightmare start for United in the second half as a slightly deflected Scott Laird shot found its way past David De Gea in the 47th minute. This goal seemed to finally spark United to play to their potential. Attack after attack came from the United flanks as crosses from Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw were unable to find a friendly jersey in the box. In a move that would end up playing a pivotal role in the game, Van Gaal subbed off the struggling Falcao and replaced him with Ashley Young in the 60th minute. Young immediately made his presence known as his pace was unmatched by Preston’s defense. It was his crucial pass to Ander Herrera on the top of the box that allowed the Spanish midfielder to slot a scrappy effort into the far side netting for the equalizing goal just five minutes after Young’s introduction.
The charge from the Red Devils continued as Antonio Valencia’s cross found makeshift forward Marouane Fellaini in the six-yard box who knocked in his own rebound to put the 11-time Cup champion up for good in the 72nd minute. De Gea had little work to do for the remaining 20 minutes of the match. A Wayne Rooney penalty in the 88th minute put the nail in the coffin and secured a quarterfinal matchup against Arsenal for the team from Manchester.