FA Cup quarter-finals round-up: No surprises as all four favourites advance to the semis

FA Cup Review Liverpool

The 2017/18 FA Cup has seen a few shocks throughout the competition, but in each of the quarter-finals, the team classified as favourites prevailed to advance to the last four. Indeed, three of the Premier League’s top five remain in contention for the trophy, so perhaps the world’s oldest competition has not become an irritant for the elite clubs. Here’s a look back on how the quarter-final action unfolded.

History was made at the King Power Stadium on Sunday evening as the meeting of Leicester and Chelsea became the first FA Cup quarter-final to be settled in extra time after the initial 90 minutes ended level. The visitors opened the scoring just before half-time with a neat finish from Alvaro Morata, the Spaniard’s first goal for almost three months. Leicester were on top for most of the second half and got their reward when, after a hectic goalmouth scramble, Jamie Vardy eventually rifled the ball past Willy Caballero, who could not have done anything more to keep it out. The contest was ultimately settled in the additional 30 minutes by Pedro, who headed to the Leicester net after a rare but amateurish misjudgement from Kasper Schmeichel. Runners-up last season, Antonio Conte’s men have another final in their sights.

Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Brighton on Saturday night won’t prompt too many of their detractors to change their stance on the team, but it was the ideal riposte to their feeble Champions League exit. Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez were conspicuous by their absence from the starting line-up, although those who featured looked lively in the first half and it was a superb ball from Nemanja Matic which picked out Romelu Lukaku to head United into the lead shortly before the interval. The home side were then indebted to Sergio Romero for a couple of fine saves in the second half to deny Brighton and it wasn’t until Matic’s late header from a straightforward free kick delivery that Jose Mourinho could feel the job was done. It was another uninspiring performance from the 2016 cup winners, but it maintains their chances of silverware from this season.

Tottenham’s quest to underline their significant process under Mauricio Pochettino with a trophy remains on course after they eased past Swansea on Saturday lunchtime. There’s no doubt that Spurs would rather have Harry Kane to call upon, but in his injury-enforced absence, Christian Eriksen stepped up to the plate with two well-taken goals either side of an Erik Lamela strike. The 3-0 margin of victory would have even been more comprehensive were it not for some outstanding saves from Swansea’s stand-in goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt, while Son Heung-min also had a goal ruled out for a very narrow offside call which involved Pochettino’s bugbear VAR to confirm what the assistant referee already flagged. Swansea have generally been excellent at the Liberty Stadium in recent weeks, but they were unusually flat and passive on Saturday and are now left to focus entirely on ensuring Premier League survival.

Southampton are also scrapping to save their top flight status, but they will have a busy end to the campaign as they advanced to the semi-finals courtesy of a hard-fought win over Wigan in Mark Hughes’ first match in charge of the Saints. The Premier League side could count themselves lucky to go in at half-time on level terms after the hosts dominated the first half at the DW Stadium, but could not seize upon any of their chances. It was a set piece which undid Wigan after the interval, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg reacting quickest to a corner and burying the ball to the net. Manolo Gabbiadini then had a penalty saved by Christian Walton, who enjoyed a superb game for the Latics. Southampton made sure of the win late on when a rapid counterattack ended with Cedric Soares finishing neatly. Interestingly, both of the Saints’ scorers registered their first goal for the club in Sunday’s victory.

The draw for the semi-finals sees Manchester United facing Tottenham and hoping to avenge their 2-0 defeat at Wembley in late January, while Chelsea will most likely be favourites to get the better of Southampton in the other contest. Whichever two teams get to the final on 19 May, it’s bound to be an intriguing duel.

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