Tue, Mar 09, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Smith strike puts Sunderland in semis

GLORY BOY The striker pounced after a quarter of an hour to hand Mick McCarthy's men a lead they wouldn't relinquish and a shot at a finals berth

REUTERS , LONDON

Sunderlands Kevin Kyle, left, and Phil Babb challenge with Sheffield's goalkeeper Paddy Kenny during the FA Cup quarterfinal match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, on Sunday.

PHOTO: EPA

Striker Tommy Smith scored after 15 minutes to give Sunderland a 1-0 home win over fellow first division side Sheffield United in their FA Cup quarterfinal on Sunday.

Sunderland, who as a second division side memorably upset Leeds United in the 1973 final for their second victory in the competition, go into the semifinal draw with holders Arsenal and league champions Manchester United.

First division Millwall and Tranmere Rovers of division two will replay their quarterfinal on March 17 after they drew 0-0 in London earlier on Sunday.

Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy, asked who he would prefer to meet in the semifinals, said: "I saw Arsenal yesterday and they were awesome, I guess we all want to avoid Arsenal."

Arsenal crushed Portsmouth 5-1 away on Saturday to reach the semifinals for a record 24th time and stay on course to become the first club ever to play in four successive finals. Manchester United beat Fulham 2-1 at home.

Man-of-the-match Smith joked: "As long as we keep away from Arsenal and Man United, that narrows it down a bit."

Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock praised Sunderland's defense after his side had had the better of the second half. "They're really good at the back," he said.

Sunderland went ahead when Argentine Julio Arca launched an attack down the left and George McCartney crossed to the middle where Smith controlled the ball, turned and hit a left-footed shot in off the far post past the diving Patrick Kenny.

It was Smith's fifth goal of the season and fourth in the FA Cup for Sunderland, who last reached the last four in 1992 when they went on to lost to Liverpool in the final.

Sheffield United could have equalized early in the second half but Sunderland's Estonian international goalkeeper Mart Poom saved well at close quarters from midfielder Phil Jagielka.

In London earlier, Australia defender Kevin Muscat missed a penalty as Millwall, seventh in the first division, failed to overcome Tranmere, who are 16th in division two and looking for their first ever semifinal.

Muscat's 65th-minute spot kick was tipped over the bar by Tranmere's Dutch goalkeeper John Achterberg following a foul by defender Ryan Taylor on Australian midfielder Tim Cahill.

's last appearance in an FA Cup semi-final was 1937, against Sunderland, who went on to win the trophy for the first time that year.

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