FA Cup: Giant killers reign
LONDON, AP :
The FA Cup lived up to its so-called 'giant-killing' reputation yesterday when Chelsea and Manchester City were eliminated at home by lower-league opposition on a day of fourth-round shocks in the world's oldest knockout competition.
Four of the English Premier League's top six were ousted on a classic FA Cup day, with leaders Chelsea squandering a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 to third-tier Bradford at Stamford Bridge in the biggest surprise of them all.
A virtually full-strength Man City lost 2-0 to second-tier Middlesbrough at Etihad Stadium, raising questions about the wisdom of the English champions' decision to travel to Abu Dhabi for a five-day warm-weather training camp in the build-up to the game. They only returned late on Friday and the team faded in the second half.
Southampton, third in the Premier League, twice surrendered the lead to lose 3-2 at home to Crystal Palace, and Tottenham - sixth in the league - conceded an injury-time winner to lose 2-1 to Leicester. They were both all-Premier League games.
Swansea lost 3-1 at second-tier Blackburn in another fourth-round stunner, with the Welsh team finishing the match with nine men after getting players sent off in the early and late minutes. Liverpool was taken to a replay by Bolton after drawing 0-0 with the second-tier side.
The upsets began on Friday when star-studded Manchester United was embarrassingly held 0-0 by fourth-tier Cambridge.
As it stands, only three Premier League teams are assured of being in the fifth round - and none are in the top half of the standings. Arsenal and West Ham can change that when they play lower-league opponents today.
Chelsea's hopes of an unlikely quadruple - Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League - were ended by a team used to stunning the big clubs. Two seasons ago, Bradford beat Arsenal and Aston Villa on the way to the League Cup final, where they lost to Swansea.
Forty-nine places in the English league pyramid separated the teams at kick-off and it showed when Chelsea went 2-0 ahead after 38 minutes through goals by Gary Cahill and Ramires.
However, Bradford pulled a goal back in the 40th and a late rally led to goals in the 75th and 82nd minutes, followed by a clinching fourth in injury time.
In two spells as Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho had never lost against a lower-division team. It means Chelsea have failed to reach at least the fifth round of the FA Cup for only the second time in 17 seasons.
"We must feel ashamed, me and the players must feel ashamed," said Mourinho, who went into Bradford's dressing room after the match to congratulate every visiting player.