Mon, Feb 19, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Arsenal in goalless draw, Red Devils left wirh red faces

AFP , LONDON

Didier Drogba's 26th goal of the season helped Chelsea ease into the last eight of the FA Cup on Saturday as Arsenal and Manchester United were both forced into unwanted replays.

Arsenal were unable to find a way past Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel in a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium while the Red Devils were left red-faced after a 1-1 draw with a second-string Reading side.

Chelsea, who are still in the hunt for four trophies this season, were joined in the quarter-finals by Watford, who snatched a late winner at home to Ipswich, and Plymouth, who reached the last eight for the first time since 1984.

Plymouth clinched a 2-0 win over Championship pacesetters Derby at Home Park.

West Brom twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough.

Icelandic midfielder Brynjar Gunnarsson was Reading's hero at Old Trafford, heading in a second-half equalizer after Michael Carrick had fired United ahead with a low 25m shot with virtually the last kick of the first half.

United squandered a string of chances to kill off what was virtually a reserve Reading side.

Norwich lived up to their pre-match pledge to have a go at Chelsa with a lively start in which Dickson Etuhu struck the post and Lee Croft's follow-up was cleared off the line by Khalid Boulahrouz.

But the Canaries were deflated six minutes before the break when a shot from Shaun Wright-Phillips was deflected past substitute goalkeeper Paul Gallagher.

Drogba's close-range volley made the outcome safe six minutes after the break and strikes by Michael Essien and Andriy Shevchenko put a flattering gloss on the scoreline.

The win was marred by a recurrence of the injury jinx that has been haunting Chelsea all season with Boulahrouz forced off with a dislocated shoulder having only just returned to action following a knee ligament injury.

Friedel earned Blackburn a replay by producing a string of top-quality saves, capped by a superb double stop in the dying seconds which saw him fling himself to his right to tip away Thierry Henry's close-range shot before scrambling to his left to block Justin Hoyte's fierce low drive.

The former Liverpool star, who had let in six goals on his last visit to Arsenal, insisted the plaudits should be shared by his back four.

"We are far more attacking usually, but after a few of our recent performances we had to tighten up at the back and we've done that," Friedel said.

The result prompted Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to call for the abolition of FA Cup replays as he contemplated a run of seven matches in four weeks, including two legs of their Champions League tie with PSV Eindhoven and the League Cup final against Chelsea.

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