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Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa (right) challenges Chelsea’s Cezar Azpilicueta during their English FA Cup quarter-final match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, yesterday.
MANCHESTER, England: Holders Chelsea inflicted more pain on Manchester United when they came from two goals down to draw 2-2 in a fluctuating FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford yesterday.
The hosts, knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid on Tuesday after a controversial red card for Nani, took a fifth-minute lead through Javier Hernandez and soon doubled it with a Wayne Rooney free kick.
Just when the Premier League leaders had started to smell a Wembley date, Chelsea pulled one back on 59 minutes through substitute Eden Hazard before Ramires levelled nine minutes later. The day’s other quarter-final will also be replayed after Championship (second division) Millwall and Blackburn Rovers played out a 0-0 draw. Manchester City and Wigan Athletic booked their places in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Still smarting from their cruel Champions League exit, United sought to quickly soothe the pain.
They struck twice within the first 11 minutes, Hernandez opening the scoring when midfielder Michael Carrick’s long ball over the top found his head and he nodded the ball neatly over stranded keeper Petr Cech.
The Mexican poacher has now scored in six of his last seven games against Chelsea, who have been the most successful team in the FA Cup in recent years having won it four times in the last six seasons.
Ferguson’s men doubled their lead six minutes later after winger Nani was fouled by Victor Moses to win a free kick just outside the area on the left. Rooney, who faced media speculation over his future when he was dropped to the bench for the Real Madrid game, stepped up to swing the ball over the top of everyone and into the far corner.
Chelsea, who suffered their own European troubles this week with a 1-0 defeat by Steaua Bucharest in the first leg of their last-16 tie, offered little in terms of attack in the first half while United looked dangerous whenever they went forward.
But that all changed in the second half with Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez making an early double substitution that yielded swift rewards.
Seven minutes after his introduction, Hazard got on the end of a pass by Juan Mata to unleash a right-footed strike from the edge of the area which flew in to ignite a Chelsea recovery.
Nine minutes later, Demba Ba fed Oscar who played in Ramires with the Brazilian finding the net to stun United and even some of Chelsea’s fans who had been voicing their discontent earlier in the game.
Chelsea ended the match looking the more likely winners, with Mata going close in the dying seconds when David de Gea brilliantly stuck out a foot to save his powerful effort and earn United a replay.