Sunderland beat Arsenal 2-0 to advance to the quarterfinals of English soccer’s F.A. Cup, as Chelsea rallied to tie Birmingham 1-1.
Kieran Richardson’s first-half goal helped Sunderland to the fifth-round victory, while Chelsea needed a 62nd-minute score from Daniel Sturridge to avoid an upset against Birmingham of the second-tier Championship.
“The main thing is we’re through to the next round,” Richardson said in an interview with ITV. “The team performance was top notch. We deserve it.”
Everton and Bolton both defeated Championship teams 2-0 to reach the final eight, while Norwich was eliminated. Everton beat Blackpool, Bolton won at Millwall and Norwich lost 2-1 at home to the Championship’s Leicester City.
Sunderland’s home win sends it to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2004 and keeps Arsenal on course for a seventh straight season without a trophy.
The Black Cats took the lead in the 40th minute when Thomas Vermaelen headed Sebastian Larsson’s free kick toward Richardson, whose shot took a slight deflection off Sebastian Squaillaci into the corner of the net.
Sunderland clinched the victory in the 78th minute as a shot from Larsson hit the post and rebounded in off Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain for an own goal.
Today’s draw will maintain pressure on first-year coach Villas-Boas as Chelsea’s poor run of form continued. The Blues have three ties and a loss since their last victory over QPR in the F.A. Cup fourth round on Jan. 28.
“It was not good enough, for sure,” Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said on the club’s website. “It’s never satisfying when you draw at home to a Championship team.”
Birmingham took the lead in the 20th minute as David Murphy was left alone at the far post to score off a corner kick. Chelsea’s Ramires was tripped by Wade Elliott in the area minutes later, but goalkeeper Colin Doyle dived to stop Juan Mata’s penalty kick.
Chelsea tied the score 17 minutes into the second half when Sturridge headed in Branislav Ivanovic’s cross, setting up a replay at Birmingham’s St. Andrews stadium on March 6.
“We stood up to the challenge of coming to the home of one of the top Premier League sides and imposed ourselves on the game,” Birmingham manager Chris Hughton said on the club’s website. “I’m very proud of that.”
Royston Drenthe scored after just 48 seconds and Denis Stracqualursi added a goal five minutes later as Everton advanced to the quarterfinals for the second time in nine years. Blackpool’s Kevin Phillips sent a penalty kick over the crossbar in second-half stoppage time.
Sean St. Ledger and David Nugent had the goals as Leicester knocked Norwich out of the F.A. Cup for the fifth straight time. Wes Hoolahan scored for the Canaries.
The fifth round concludes tomorrow as Crawley Town visits Stoke, Tottenham hosts Stevenage and Liverpool is at Brighton.
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