Live Commentary: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United - as it happened

Live Commentary: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United - as it happened
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Sports Mole brings you coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final replay between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea entertained Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Easter Monday as both sides fought for a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

In sharp contrast to the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford three weeks ago, the match failed to deliver in terms of goalmouth action in the first half.

However, the game came to light at the start of the second half with a stunning volley from Chelsea striker Demba Ba.

Manchester United pressed for an equaliser but after Petr Cech kept Javier Hernandez at bay with one of the saves of the season, Robin van Persie squandered two late opportunities as the visitors bowed out of the competition.

Read below to see how the action unfolded.

11.33amHello and welcome to Sports Mole's coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final replay between Chelsea and Manchester United.

11.35amWell, this isn't a bad game to begin the month with. The big debate in recent years is whether the FA Cup has lost its shine and prestige. When you have two teams such as Chelsea and Manchester United fighting it out for a place in the semi-finals, and with both teams expected to play their strongest team, the answer is a firm no, for today anyway.

11.37amThere is just under an hour until kickoff at Stamford Bridge. We are still awaiting the all-important team news, but we will bring it to you as soon as we have it.

11.41amTEAM NEWS: The Chelsea team is in, and manager Rafael Benitez appears to have made as many as seven changes from Saturday's defeat at Southampton. The most significant alterations come in attack, with Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Demba Ba all being recalled.

11.43amTEAM NEWS: As for United, Sir Alex Ferguson has surprisingly left out both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, with Danny Welbeck partnering Javier Hernandez up front. Full team news to follow...

11.46amCHELSEA STARTING XI: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic Luiz, Cole; Ramires, Mikel; Hazard, Mata, Oscar; Ba

11.49amCHELSEA SUBS: Turnbull, Bertrand, Terry, Lampard, Moses, Benayoun, Torres

11.51amMANCHESTER UNITED XI: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Cleverley, Carrick, Nani; Welbeck, Hernandez

11.53amMANCHESTER UNITED SUBS: Lindegaard, Giggs, Young, Van Persie, Powell, Kagawa, Vermijl

11.55amChelsea's team is pretty much what was expected, but it is a big surprise that United's two star strikers are not in their starting lineup. Van Persie is on the bench, but Rooney misses out all together. The word is that he suffered a groin injury on international duty with England. No word on how long he will be out for.

11.59amIt has been over three weeks since the original fixture took place at Old Trafford, and what a match it was. Manchester United looked in complete control at half-time, holding a 2-0 advantage, but Chelsea displayed superb spirit to bring the scores level, and they could probably count themselves unlucky that they didn't nick the win at the end.

12.02pmManchester City await the winners of today's match. That is quite an attractive incentive for both teams to give their all. United would love a crack at their fierce rivals at Wembley, while Chelsea would hope to put a dent in City's confidence as both teams strive for second place in the Premier League.

12.06pmChelsea will also be going all-out to defend the trophy that they won last year. Last May, they saw off the challenge of Liverpool for their third FA Cup triumph in four years. Their only defeat in this competition in the last four years came via a penalty shootout against Everton. Could we see a similar scenario this afternoon?

12.10pmBoth sides have enjoyed a relative comfortable passage through to the quarter-finals. Chelsea were taken to a replay by League One club Brentford, but other than that, they have breezed through their opening three ties. Manchester United needed a late Robin van Persie equaliser to remain in the competition against West Ham, but they have dispensed of the Hammers, Fulham and Reading to make it through to the last-eight.

12.14pmUnited boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Rooney should be available for the Manchester derby next week, so his groin injury doesn't sound too serious.

12.17pmThe players that Chelsea have introduced this afternoon are the same players who did the damage at Old Trafford, but Benitez has insisted that his squad selection is purely down to Chelsea's hectic fixture schedule. The former Liverpool boss told ITV: "We have to manage the squad, and to play these two games in a short time, you have to manage different players."

12.20pmThere had also been question marks regarding the priorities of Benitez after his team selection on Saturday, but he has insisted that he simply wants to win every match. "For us, it is really important for us to finish in the top four," he added. "But, we will approach every competition trying to win."

12.23pmWe are less than 10 minutes away from kickoff at Stamford Bridge. There has been as many as 18 goals in the three matches between the two teams this season. How many more will we see this afternoon?

12.27pmThe players are in the tunnel waiting to enter the pitch. Both teams look focused on the job in hand. Chelsea are being led out by Petr Cech today, with John Terry and Frank Lampard only featuring on the bench.

0 minAnd we are underway! Chelsea get us going at Stamford Bridge. For anyone interested, the two managers shook hands, which didn't happen at Old Trafford.

2 minChelsea have made the quicker start, but they have yet to trouble David de Gea.

4 minA bit more intent from the home side. Oscar's cross was only half-cleared, but John Obi Mikel's effort from 30 yards was blocked.

6 minThere is a terrific atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge, but it has been a quiet start. Both goalkeepers are yet to touch the ball, as either side struggle to keep hold of possession in midfield.

8 minUnited are getting into the game now, but after a sustained period of keep-ball, Valencia's cross was too deep and Chelsea clear.

11 minGreat defending from Branislav Ivanovic. It looked as though Danny Welbeck had the beating of the Serbian defender, but he was dispossessed before he could run clear on goal.

13 minI hope I haven't put a curse on this game by mentioning how many goals there has already been between the two teams this season. For an FA Cup fixture, this has been as uneventful as you can get.

15 minOUCH! It wasn't so pleasing for Chris Smalling, but it brought the biggest cheer of the day so far. Hazard created a chance for himself on the edge of the area, but his attempted effort struck Smalling in an unfortunate place.

19 minWhether it is nerves, tiredness, or something else, there is just no flow to proceedings at the moment. Hazard's blocked shot a few minutes ago is all we have to show for the opening 20 minutes.

21 minINJURY! That is the end of the match for Ashley Cole. He was attempting to keep pace with Danny Welbeck down the right-hand side, but he quickly pulled up with an hamstring injury. Hopefully it won't be too severe, but Ryan Bertrand is on in his place.

23 minWith Chelsea's upcoming fixtures in mind, that is a big blow for the Blues. Back on the pitch, it is as you were...

26 minFinally, a bit of action. Welbeck played a lovely reverse ball through to Cleverly, but his cross was well defended by Ivanovic.

27 minUnited have definitely improved in the last few minutes. They are trying to catch Chelsea on the break, and they looked threatening when Hernandez ran at Luiz down the right, but he tried to be too clever and tripped over the ball in the penalty area.

31 minSAVE! I promise you, your eyes aren't deceiving you. There has been a shot! Hazard ran at the United backline, before laying the ball off to Ba, whose first-time shot from 12 yards was blocked by De Gea.

33 minFree-kick to Chelsea in a dangerous position after Nani was adjudged to have handled the ball.

34 minLuiz and Mata both stood over the free-kick, and it was the Brazilian who tried one of his trademark set pieces. Unfortunately for the defender, his shot went six yards over the crossbar.

36 minThat is superb work-rate from Hazard. Valencia was trying to shield the ball out of play, but the Belgian slid in to earn a corner. The resulting kick saw Ramires shoot tamely at De Gea.

37 minCHANCE! Nani has been on the periphery of the game, but he finally shown some life to fire marginally wide of Cech's post.

38 minCHANCE! It is all happening now...well, it is a little better. Hazard links up well with Oscar, but he curls the ball over from 12 yards.

41 minSAVE! Wow, that was nearly a massive error from Cech. Hernandez fired an innocuous looking shot from 25 yards, but the Czech Republic international lost the flight of the ball. However, he just about managed to get his foot in the path of the ball to prevent United from going one up.

43 minA bit of late pressure from United as the half draws to a close. There is mayhem in the Chelsea penalty area as the ball isn't cleared, and Welbeck fails to head the ball on target from the resulting corner.

45 minOne minute to be added on...

45+1 minI thought John Obi Mikel was going to shock the world with a goal then, but it is blocked by Rio Ferdinand.


1.21pmThe match improved in the finally 15 minutes, but both sides have flattered to deceive in the opening half. United have come closest, but in general, it was pretty even in terms of possession. I would like to think that things will improve after the break...

1.25pmFew players stood out, but Eden Hazard are arguably the busiest. He seemed to favour the direct approach, running at the Smalling and Ferdinand, but his efforts have gone unrewarded so far. On the flip side, Juan Mata has rarely featured. Maybe he is still suffering from the virus that kept him out of the action at the weekend.

1.28pmAs for United, the hard-work of Welbeck and Hernandez has kept the Chelsea defence alert. The visitors have plenty of pace going forward , and if the game becomes more open as the match wears on, the front duo could exploit any gaps that Chelsea leave open.

1.30pmThe players are heading back out at Stamford Bridge.

46 minOff we go. There doesn't appear to be any changes for either side at half-time.

46 minEarly opportunity for United after David Luiz crudely takes out Phil Jones.

47 minThat's poor from Nani, as his free-kick fails to beat the wall, and he follows that up by crossing the ball into the grateful hands of Cech.

47 minCHANCE! That would have been some goal if it had beaten De Gea! A cross shoots across the six-yard box, which Ba flicks with his heel straight at the United goalkeeper.

48 minGOAL! Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United (Ba)

48 minThat is a quite ridiculous finish from Demba Ba. Juan Mata floated the ball over the United defence and Ba has plucked the ball out of the air to volley the ball into the top corner. De Gea was helpless. Now we have a game!

51 minIt will be interesting to see how United respond to that stunning opener. They won't make any changes just yet, but they have plenty of options on the bench should they fail to equalise in the next 10 minutes.

53 minBOOKING! Chelsea have a spring in their step, and after a few neat touches, Tom Cleverly grows frustrated and clatters Ramires.

56 minA quick interchange between Valencia and Nani results in the latter crossing for Welbeck, but the striker is adjudged to have pushed the defender. There was also the issue of an handball too.

58 minSome neat play from Ramires results in the midfielder crossing for Ba, but he is beaten to the ball by the defender. The ball falls to Mata, but his cross is well cleared by De Gea.

59 minBOOKING! That was cynical from Bertrand, who takes out Hernandez as United looked to break.

60 minSAVE! Save of the season contender from Cech. Welbeck drilled the ball to the back post to Hernandez and his header looked to be heading for the roof of the net, only for Cech to divert the ball over the bar. Remember De Gea's save from Mata at Old Trafford? That was as good, if not better.

63 minCHANCE! Mata beats the offside-trap on the left-hand side of the penalty area, but he sees his shot hit the side-netting. He was hoping for a corner, but the referee says that De Gea did not touch the ball.

65 minSUBSTITUTION United make their second change of the afternoon, with Ryan Giggs entering the action in place of Nani. I should of added earlier that Robin van Persie is also on the pitch.

67 minCHANCE! What a chance for Hazard. He breaks through the United defence, but he could only drag the ball wide from 12 yards. That really should have been 2-0. Will Chelsea regret that?

70 min20 minutes to go at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have shown no signs of backing off, and United are always dangerous going forward. I would be surprised if there isn't more goals in this game...

72 minLovely play from the home side but they can't extend their lead. Hazard and Mata link up to set up the advancing Ramires, but his driven shot goes a few yards wide of De Gea's left-hand post.

75 minBenitez nearly got a whack to the face then. That would have drawn a loud cheer from both sets of supporters! 15 minutes to go.

76 minBOOKING! Another caution for a Chelsea full-back, this time it is Azpilicueta, who was out-foxed by Welbeck.

78 minMore pressure from United, but it is cleared, while Chelsea fail to take advantage when they break quickly. Ashley Young's arrival looks imminent.

79 minSUBSTITUTION! Welbeck is the man withdrawn by Sir Alex Ferguson, which is a bit of a surprise. I think he has been one of United's best performers this afternoon.

81 minChances at both ends of the pitch. First, Van Persie just fails to make contact with a teasing cross into the penalty area, before Mata drags a poor effort wide from 20 yards.

84 minCHANCE! Oscar hasn't been as effective as usual, but he shows some good skill to create an opening for himself, before firing harmlessly wide of the post.

86 minChelsea are doing all they can to start to run down the clock. Both teams must be feeling the pace of the second half after their second match in 48 hours.

87 minCHANCE! What a miss. Patrice Evra does great down the left-hand side, but after cutting the ball across, Van Persie can only volley the ball high into the stand from six yards.

89 minBOOKING! Two bookings for Chelsea. Mata is booked for a tired challenge deep in United's half, before Oscar is booked 30 seconds later for a similar offence.

90 minFour minutes of injury time at Stamford Bridge. Victor Moses comes on for Oscar, probably with the intention of using his pace to take the ball into the corners.

90+1 minForget taking the ball into the corner. Moses immediately has two opportunities to waste a bit of time, but he takes the direct approach into the penalty area without much success.

90+2 minCHANCE! Another opportunity for Van Persie. It was a bit more difficult than his last chance, but he would have expected to hit the target with an header from 12 yards. Torres comes on for Ba.


2.24pmChelsea hold on to progress through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup. The match could have gone either way, and United will feel aggrieved not to have equalised, but the Blues impressed to keep the visitors at bay.

2.26pmThe turning point of the match had to be Cech's wonder save from Hernandez. The Mexican even had to applaud the Czech stopper for his reactions. It was a terrific stop, and it helped his side reach Wembley, where they will play Manchester City.

2.27pmThank you for joining us this afternoon. It wasn't the greatest spectacle, but a couple of magical moments made up for the lack of action in the first half. Goodbye.

Ramires is congratulated by team mates Oscar and Juan Mata after scoring the equaliser against Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter final on March 10, 2013
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