LONDON – Chelsea downed Leicester City 1-0 on the road on Sunday thanks to a tally by Ross Barkley, thus earning the Blues a berth in the FA Cup semifinals.
The English midfielder broke the scoreless stalemate at King Power Stadium in the 63rd minute, having come onto the pitch just a few minutes earlier as a replacement for the very young – but very good – Billy Gilmour, and teed up a shot that found the twine after a cross by Brazil’s Willian.
Chelsea, however, had played badly all during the first half, delivering one of its worst performances of the season, and Blues coach Frank Lampard said that he could have made nine substitutions at the break instead of the three – including Barkley – with which he contented himself.
“We haven’t played that bad since I’ve been here. We’ve played at lot better than that and lost games. We are lucky they didn’t take their chances,” he told BT Sport.
Leicester was without James Maddison, who is on the injured list, and – although they dominated in the first half – couldn’t find their groove after the break, and although they really stepped on the gas late in the match, defender Caglar Soyuncu’s header hit Azpilicueta and sailed over the net.
Leicester City has lost all of its last five quarterfinal matches in the FA Cup, going under in each of the last three against Chelsea, whereas the win means that the Blues have reached the FA Cup semifinals for a 10th time so far this century, tying with Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Manchester City, the current Premier League champ, will be in the semis for the second consecutive year after defeating Newcastle United in a very unequal duel, with Pep Guardiola’s boys winning 2-0 on the road.
Kevin De Bruyne, on a penalty kick, put the Sky Blues ahead, but Newcastle, which barely managed to get near the net defended by Chilean Claudio Bravo, muffed its big chance to tie things up in the second half when Dwight Gale got a rebound close in but – inexplicably – sent the ball into the stratosphere.
City didn’t fail to take advantage of the gift and a few moments later decided the game in the person of Raheem Sterling, the striker firing a powerful right-footed blast from outside the area for the 2-0.
The UK title defenders’ FA Cup match against Arsenal will take place at Wembley on July 18-19.
Elsewhere, Spaniard Dani Ceballos scored the 91st-minute goal on Sunday that was Arsenal’s ticket to the semifinals in its 2-1 victory over Sheffield United.
The Gunners had gotten on the board first midway through the first half thanks to a penalty kick by Nicolas Pepe after Alexandre Lacazette was fouled in the box by Chris Basham.
Ceballos, on loan from Spanish team Real Madrid, fired a low one into the net at Bramall Lane after David McGoldrick had knocked in a curving shot to tie things up very late in the regular-time action, with all and sundry supposing just prior that the match would go into extra time.
The semifinal matches, thus will be Man City vs. Arsenal and Man United vs. Chelsea this time around, with the final being played on Aug. 1.