Fernando Torres scored his first goal since October to help Chelsea crush Leicester City 5-2 and Liverpool beat Stoke City 2-1 to reach the FA Cup semi-finals on Sunday.
The ￡50 million (US$79 million) Spanish striker scuffed a shot into the net after 67 minutes and he struck again with a deft late header as Chelsea’s revival continued under caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo.
“I needed those goals, in the last month the team is much better than before,” man-of-the-match Torres told ESPN. “I have been playing well, but not scoring goals. We are creating more chances than before and we are much better defensively.”
Defender Gary Cahill headed Chelsea’s first goal before revealing a T-shirt with “Pray 4 Muamba” written on it, a reference to his former Bolton Wanderers teammate Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday and remains critically ill in hospital.
Torres set up the second for Salomon Kalou to put Chelsea firmly in control and the Spaniard’s first goal in 25 matches effectively sent the London club into the semi--finals, before the match ended in a flurry of action.
Leicester pulled one back through Jermaine Beckford, Torres neatly glanced in a corner, Ben Marshall’s superb 25m shot flew past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and Torres set up his side’s fifth for Raul Meireles in stoppage-time.
Liverpool opened the scoring against Stoke at Anfield after 23 minutes thanks to a sublime finish from Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan striker stroking the ball into the corner of the net from 20m.
Last season’s FA Cup -runners-up struck back quickly, though, former Liverpool forward Peter Crouch nodding in the equalizer following the award of a controversial corner to the away team.
Liverpool, who won the League Cup last month, dominated possession after halftime and they got their reward after 57 minutes when winger Stewart Downing ran across two Stoke defenders in the penalty area, before drilling a firm shot past goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.
“Stoke are a tough physical side and Tony Pulis had them wound up because it was very big game for both sides today,” Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said.
Everton drew 1-1 with Sunderland on Saturday and the game between Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers was abandoned before halftime with the score at 1-1 after Muamba collapsed on the pitch.
Chelsea will play Spurs or Bolton in their semi-final at Wembley, while Liverpool face the winners of the Sunderland-Everton replay.