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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

FA Cup, Tottenham1-2 Chelsea

Spurs second best as Chelsea grasp their second chanceChelsea set up an FA Cup semi-final meeting with Blackburn Rovers thanks to superb second-half strikes from Andriy Shevchenko and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Andriy Shevchenko finally showed his true quality with a superb strike that put Chelsea on course for a 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final replay victory at Tottenham on Monday.

Shevchenko broke the deadlock with a finish of the highest quality early in the second half before Shaun Wright-Phillips added an equally brilliant second.

Robbie Keane reduced the deficit with a late penalty but Chelsea edged through to set up a semi-final against Blackburn next month.

However, there was an ugly end to the match. As Chelsea's players celebrated with their supporters at the final whistle, a Spurs fan ran on to the pitch to confront Blues boss Jose Mourinho and had to be restrained by Frank Lampard.

With tempers already raised, Chelsea coach Baltemar Brito was involved in a heated argument with Tottenham assistant Chris Hughton as the players left the pitch.

After months of plenty of criticism for a series of lacklustre displays since his pre-season move from AC Milan, Shevchenko is coming into form at just the right moment.

His relationship with Mourinho has been frosty at times amid suggestions the Ukraine international was signed by owner Roman Abramovich rather than the Chelsea boss.

But he scored a fine goal in Saturday's win against Sheffield United and his devastating effort here was further evidence that he is beginning to recapture the form that persuaded Chelsea to pay 30 million pounds for him.

It was tough on Tottenham who had started well, with Dimitar Berbatov wasting no time in testing Petr Cech with a looping header from Steed Malbranque's cross.

Chelsea had staged a dramatic fightback to set up this replay after trailing 3-1 at half-time at Stamford Bridge, prompting Mourinho to taunt Spurs by claiming he expected his side to reach the final after that escape.

Michael Ballack was close to backing up those bold words in the sixth minute when he shot narrowly wide after Didier Drogba chested down Ashley Cole's long punt.

Wright-Phillips has been given a rare opportunity by Mourinho recently and the winger showed a glimpse of his undoubted talent with a fierce drive from the edge of the area that flashed just over the crossbar.

But Spurs have been free-scoring form of late and Michael Dawson wasn't far away with a header from Jermaine Jenas's corner midway through the half.

Martin Jol's side had won seven of their previous eight matches and they gave Chelsea no time to settle in a frantic first half. The visitors' front two were starved of service and Drogba's frustration boiled over when he was booked for dissent after fouling Ricardo Rocha.

Chances were at a premium as these London rivals refused to give an inch.

Lampard tried his luck from acute angle, but his scuffed half-volley never looked like troubling Paul Robinson.

Tottenham were first to threaten after half-time when Pascal Chimbonda's volley from Keane's flick was well saved by Cech. But it was Chelsea who took the lead in stunning style in the 55th minute.

When Shevchenko cut in from the right past Malbranque, there appeared to be little danger, but the Ukrainian unleashed a superb curling strike that arrowed past Robinson into the far corner.

It was the kind of finish that earned Shevchenko his reputation as the best forward in Europe and there was worse to come for Spurs as Chelsea hit them with another stunning goal six minutes later.

Cole spotted Michael Dawson was out of position and lofted a pass to Drogba just inside the penalty area. The Ivory Coast striker chested down to Wright-Phillips and he sent a perfectly-placed strike whistling past Robinson.

Just as Chelsea looked set to cruise into the last four, Berbatov won a penalty in the 79th minute when he surged into the area and was brought down from behind by Carvalho.

Keane sent Cech the wrong way from the spot to set up a furious finale, but Chelsea held on to keep their dreams of a quadruple alive.

Tottenham: Robinson, Chimbonda, Young-Pyo Lee, Dawson, Rocha (Stalteri 84), Lennon, Zokora, Jenas, Malbranque (Defoe 64), Berbatov, Keane.
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Ghaly, Huddlestone.

Booked: Chimbonda.

Goals: Keane 79 pen.

Chelsea: Cech, Diarra (Ferreira 90), Ashley Cole, Carvalho, Terry, Wright-Phillips (Kalou 86), Lampard, Ballack, Mikel, Shevchenko (Robben 81), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Boulahrouz.

Booked: Diarra, Drogba, Cech.

Goals: Shevchenko 55, Wright-Phillips 61.

FA Cup, Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea highlights & goals: