Wednesday, 24 February 2016

FA Cup Fifth Round Review

The FA Cup continued this weekend with the fifth round with the remaining 16 sides all competing for a place in the sixth round which would put them just one win from a Wembley semi final. The eight ties took place over three days from Feb 20th-22nd.

Opening the round on Saturday was the rematch of the 2013 final between Arsenal and Championship leaders Hull City with the Tigers keen to end the Gunners long winning streak in the competition. Both sides made sweeping changes from their midweek games but a tight game saw the sides draw 0-0 with the prospective replay more welcome for the visitors than Arsenal who have another addition to their hectic schedule.

The two 3pm games saw a face-off between Championship and top flight sides starting with Reading hosting West Bromwich Albion at the Madjeski Stadium. A close run first half saw the sides remain level into the interval before a 54th minute strike from Darren Fletcher put the Baggies 1-0 ahead. McShane levelled for the Royals within five minutes before Hector put the hosts in front in the 72nd minute. The hosts sealed an upset late on as Lucas Piazon completed a 3-1 success to send them into the sixth round.

Watford hosted Leeds United at Vicarage Road looking to extend an already fine cup run while the visitors hoped to boost a mixed domestic season so far. The sides played out a goalless first half before Watford went ahead in the 53rd minute with an own goal from Wooton and the strike proved to be enough to secure a 1-0 win and send them into the next round.

The evening kick-off saw an all top flight battle between Bournemouth and Everton with both sides hoping to continue recent good runs of form as they faced off at the Vitality Stadium. A close first half saw the sides remain goalless before the Toffees struck an opener in the 55th minute through Ross Barkley. Everton were two goals to the good on 76 minutes as Romelu Lukaku ended a barren run in front of goal to make it 2-0 and seal a spot in the sixth round.

Sunday's early game saw Championship side Blackburn Rovers host top flight West Ham United hoping to stage an upset against the in-form Hammers at Ewood Park. Their pursuit of such an upset started well with Ben Marshall giving them a 1-0 lead inside 20 minutes. The Hammers fought back with a leveller from Victor Moses on 26 minutes before going ahead through Dmitri Payet's 36th minute effort. Rovers were dealt a blow on 55 minutes with the dismissal of Taylor and the Hammers took full advantage by making 3-1 through Emmanuel Emenike on 64 minutes before Cheikou Kouyake was sent off with 15 minutes left. Despite being back on level terms numbers wise, West Ham wrapped up a 5-1 rout with second strikes for Emenike and Payet in the 85th and 90th minutes

The first of two top flight battles on Sunday afternoon saw a London derby between Tottenham and Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane. A tight first half looked to be ending goalless but Palace had other ideas as they struck an opener in added time through Martin Kelly. The strike proved to be crucial as the Eagles held on for a 1-0 win that boosted a poor run of form in recent weeks.

Chelsea hosted Manchester City at Stamford Bridge looking to keep up their best hope of a trophy this season after a midweek European defeat while City looked to continue their pursuit of a quadruple. City made an array of changes from their last game while the hosts fielded a fairly strong starting 11. The opening goal came on 35 minutes as Diego Costa put the hosts ahead but a quick reply from City saw David Faupala level within two minutes.

However, Chelsea struck twice within five minutes of the half-time break to take control at 3-1 as Willian fired in on 48 minutes before Gary Cahill's 53rd minute effort and Eden Hazard made it 4-1 on 67 minutes. The rout was completed late on as Bertrand Traore continued his scoring streak on 89 minutes for 5-1.

The final game of the round saw League One side Shrewsbury Town host top flight Manchester United at Greenhous Meadow hoping to stage a huge upset against a United side in poor form. The Shrews did well in the first half to keep the visitors on level terms but suffered a double blow in the final part of the half as Chris Smalling and Jesse Lingard fired United 2-0 ahead with efforts in the 37th and 45th minutes. The tie was over as a contest just after the hour mark as Juan Mata sealed a 3-0 win in the 61st minute.