Chelsea beats ManU 1-0 to reach FA Cup semis

Demba Ba sent Chelsea into the FA Cup semifinals with a 1-0

victory over Manchester United on Monday.

The quarterfinal replay was decided four minutes into the second

half when Ba hooked the ball over goalkeeper David De Gea to set up

a Wembley Stadium meeting with Manchester City.

There was little De Gea could do to keep out the winner.

Juan Mata lobbed a pass over the United defense and Ba raced

past Rio Ferdinand and hooked a volley over De Gea while almost

sideways in the air.

”It was a brilliant pass from Juan,” Ba said. ”For Newcastle,

I scored quite a similar goal against Man United. It reminded me of

that.”

As it did United manager Alex Ferguson.

”We had the experience from Newcastle a couple of years back

when he scored exactly the same type of goal,” Ferguson said. ”We

had to be aware of that movement and we were caught napping, to be

honest.”

While Chelsea also has a Europa League quarterfinal on Thursday,

United can win no trophies except for the Premier League, where it

holds a seemingly insurmountable 15-point lead.

United was denied an equalizer on Petr Cech’s stunning

one-handed save to block Javier Hernandez’s close-range header.

That save even had Hernandez congratulating the goalkeeper.

Antonio Valencia surged forward and whipped a cross that

Hernandez met with a diving header. Cech tipped it away with his

left hand.

Chelsea is on course for a fifth FA Cup triumph in seven

seasons, but is only fourth in league play following Saturday’s

loss at Southampton.

”The priority is the top four … the race for the top four

will be until the end of the season,” interim manager Rafa Benitez

said. ”We’re in the top four with a game in hand. We’re in a very

good position, the semifinals of the FA Cup and the quarterfinals

of the Europa League.”

Chelsea will play Manchester City on April 14 at Wembley, a day

after Wigan takes on Millwall in the other FA Cup semifinal.