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Leicester cruise into FA semis, Iheanacho’s double eliminates United

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Leicester sent Manchester United crashing out of the FA Cup as Kelechi Iheanacho’s double sealed a 3-1 win, while Chelsea will face Manchester City in the semi-finals after beating Sheffield United on Sunday.

Brendan Rodgers’ side can look forward to meeting Southampton in their first FA Cup semi-final since 1982 thanks to Iheanacho’s predatory finishing at the King Power Stadium.

He put Leicester ahead in Rodgers’ 100th game in charge before Mason Greenwood equalised late in the first half.

Youri Tielemans restored Leicester’s lead and Nigeria striker Iheanacho wrapped up only their second win over United in 23 years and their first since 2014.

Leicester, who have never won the FA Cup and last reached the final in 1969, will head to Wembley to face Southampton in April.

United’s limp exit ended their run of 29 away games without defeat in all domestic competitions since losing at Liverpool in January 2020.

Without a trophy since the 2017 Europa League, that competition is now their last realistic chance of winning the first silverware of boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign.

After reaching the Europa League quarter-finals with a win at AC Milan in midweek, Solskjaer made five changes as Paul Pogba returned to the starting line-up following his winner at the San Siro.

Solskjaer this week revealed that Fred, Bruno Fernandes and Alex Telles had played a key role in United’s revival with their upbeat personalities.

But Fred had nothing to smile about as he paid the price for a woeful mistake in the 24th minute.

When Harry Maguire played a risky ball out to Fred on the edge of the United area, the Brazilian’s panicked response was a weak back-pass towards United keeper Dean Henderson.

Iheanacho nipped in to intercept it before rounding Henderson and tapping into the empty net to make it eight goals in his last nine games.

United equalised in the 38th minute when Pogba’s cross was cleverly dummied by Donny van de Beek and Greenwood slammed his shot past Kasper Schmeichel from 12 yards.

Lacklustre United were still out of sorts and Tielemans put Leicester back in front in the 52nd minute.

The Belgian midfielder advanced unchecked as United backed off and he took full advantage with a fine low finish from the edge of the area.

Solskjaer responded with four substitutions including the introduction of Fernandes and Edinson Cavani.

But Iheanacho killed off United in the 78th minute with a clinical header from Marc Albrighton’s free-kick.

Since his first game in the FA Cup in 2016, Iheanacho has scored 13 times, more than any other player.

Chelsea set up City clash

At Stamford Bridge, Thomas Tuchel’s much-changed side were below their best but still earned a potentially thrilling showdown with quadruple chasers Manchester City by beating Sheffield United 2-0.

Oliver Norwood’s 24th-minute own goal, the midfielder turning Ben Chilwell’s shot into the net, put them on course for the last four.

Hakim Ziyech came off the bench to finish Chilwell’s pass in second-half stoppage time.

The Blues are back in the FA Cup semi-finals for a fourth time in the last five seasons after losing last year’s final against Arsenal.

Chelsea won the last of the club’s eight FA Cups under Antonio Conte in 2018.

“We had a good first half where we controlled everything. We lost control in the second half. After 14 consecutive matches I could feel we were tired and we made many little mistakes,” Tuchel said.

Tuchel’s early impact since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard in January has turned Chelsea in a rock-solid defensive unit.

The German is unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions, with Chelsea keeping 12 clean sheets in that period, including shutting out the opposition in their last seven matches.

“I could tell in training we were tired and there was a lack of concentration. That can happen sometimes. It gets harder to keep the level up,” Tuchel said.

-AFP

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Over 120 fans die in Indonesia football stampede

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At least 129 people have died in a stampede at an Indonesian football match, officials say, in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters.

The stampede happened after police tear-gassed rioting supporters.

About 180 were injured in the crush after Arema FC lost to bitter rivals Persebaya Surabaya in East Java.

The country’s chief security minister said that the number of spectators exceeded the stadium’s capacity by around 4,000 people.

President Joko Widodo has ordered that all matches in Indonesia’s top league must be stopped until an investigation has been concluded.

Videos show fans running on to the pitch after the final whistle.

Police then fired tear gas, leading to a crowd stampede and cases of suffocation, said Nico Afinta, police chief in East Java.

“It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,” he said, adding that two police officers were among the dead.

“We would like to convey that… not all of them were anarchic. Only about 3,000 who entered the pitch,” he said.

Fleeing fans “went out to one point at the exit. Then there was a build-up, in the process of accumulation there was shortness of breath, lack of oxygen”, he added.

Videos on social media show fans clambering over fences to escape. Separate videos appear to show lifeless bodies on the floor.

FIFA, the world’s governing football body, states that no “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police at matches.

The Indonesian football association (PSSI) said it had launched an investigation, adding that the incident had “tarnished the face of Indonesian football”.

Violence at football matches is not new in Indonesia, and Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya are long-time rivals.

Persebaya Surabaya fans were banned from buying tickets for the game because of fears of clashes.

But Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD posted on Instagram that 42,000 tickets had been sold for the match at the Kanjuruhan stadium, which has a capacity of 38,000.
President Widodo called for this to be the “last soccer tragedy in the nation” after ordering that all Liga 1 games should be paused pending an investigation.

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Arsenal spank Tottenham 3-1 in London derby

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Arsenal secured a vital 3-1 win over Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday as goals from Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka saw the Gunners triumph in the North London derby.

Mikel Arteta made two changes to the team that defeated Brentford last time out as Oleksandr Zinchenko and Martin Odegaard returned while Thomas Partey started after some injury concerns.

Arsenal dominated the opening exchanges and took the lead with 20 minutes gone through a Partey pearler.

Just nine minutes later, Harry Kane brought Spurs level after Gabriel brought down Richarlison to undo all of Arsenal’s good work. The visitors grew into the game after drawing level and headed into half-time with a share of the spoils.

Arsenal took the lead minutes into the second half. Bukayo Saka weaved his way into the box and hit his shot at Hugo Lloris who parried twice which allowed Jesus to poke home.

With 60 minutes gone, Spurs’ chances of taking something away from the game were dealt a blow when Emerson Royal was shown a straight red card for his challenge on Gabriel Martinelli.

Arsenal made their advantage pay as Granit Xhaka fired his shot low and across Lloris after some good work from Martinelli. The Gunners played out the remaining time without breaking a sweat to secure north London bragging rights.

Harry Kane’s leveller for Tottenham saw him set yet more scoring records, but his side self-destructed after halftime as their 12-year wait for a league win in the fixture continued. Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have now won seven of their opening eight games and lead the standings by four points with second-placed Manchester City facing Manchester United on Sunday.

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Lewandowski gives Barca slim victory in Mallorca

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Robert Lewandowski was the hero once again for Barcelona as they fought to a 1-0 victory away at Mallorca.

The game started with Barca pulling weights to break the deadlock, and did eventually when Lewandowski curled in a fine shot into the bottom corner of the net in the 20th minute.

Barca then tried to kill off the game but could not find that second-goal cushion as Mallorca were defensively solid.

The host tried, on multiple occasions, to draw level but Marc Andre Ter Stegen continued his excllent form between the sticks for Barca as he denied their attempts to ensure Barca pick up maximum points and stay top of the league for at least, the night till Real Madrid play Osasuna on Sunday night.

-Vanguard

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