Saturday, January 24, 2015 10:23 pm
It was a day of upsets as three premiership sides crashed out at the English FA cup fourth round.
Swansea City was the first team to be stunned by second tier Blackburn Rovers as Rudy Gestede and Craig Conway scored the decisive goals for a 3-1 win on Saturday.
Swansea had Kyle Bartley sent off in the sixth minute for impeding Josh King, only for them to take the lead in the 21st minute when Gylfi Sigurdsson found the top-left corner from 30 yards.
But Chris Taylor hooked in an equaliser two minutes later before substitute Gestede and Conway struck in the second half, the latter finding the net with a shot that squirmed beneath Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Both Gestede and Conway used to play for Swansea’s fierce local rivals Cardiff City, and Swansea’s misery was compounded in stoppage time when Sigurdsson saw red for an ugly challenge from behind on Taylor.
Then came he greatest stunner of all: the defeat of Almighty Chelsea, Premier league leaders by third-tier Bradford City.
Chelsea were still reeling in shock as Bradford ran away with a 4-2 victory at Stamford Bridge.
Blues manager Jose Mourinho had said ahead of the game that it would be a “disgrace” if the Premier League leaders lost the fourth round tie and his worst fears were confirmed as Bradford outplayed their illustrious opponents in an incredible second half.
There was no sign of the drama to come when Gary Cahill and Ramires put Chelsea 2-0 up in the first half.
But Phil Parkinson’s side, whose giant-killing pedigree saw them reach the League Cup final in 2013, were handed a lifeline as Jon Stead struck just before the interval.
Felipe Morais, a former Chelsea trainee, equalised with 15 minutes remaining and, rather than settle for a lucrative replay, Bradford pushed forward in search of greater glory.
Andy Halliday put them ahead in the 82nd minute before Mark Yeates capped an astonishing finale that left the hosts shell-shocked.
Mourinho had left Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and John Terry on the bench, while Diego Costa was not included at all in the 18-man squad, but even so this was a truly remarkable result on a memorable day which also saw Manchester City dumped out by Middlesbrough.
Despite sitting 48 places below their hosts in the league ladder, Bradford had no shortage of confidence and they played with a huge amount of energy.
Manchester City also fell 2-0 to Championship high-fliers Middlesbrough at the Etihad Stadium.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini had to field questions about his side’s mid-week trip to Abu Dhabi for a warm-weather training camp after the reigning Premier League champions were eliminated by Middlesbrough.
Currently second in the Championship, Middlesbrough weathered heavy pressure in the first half before capitalising on some farcical defending to take a 53rd-minute lead through on-loan Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford.
Fernando’s back-pass sold Willy Caballero short and after the City goalkeeper collided with Albert Adomah, Fernando slid in to clear, only to play the ball against Bamford, whose touch took the ball in.
After Lee Tomlin had hit the post for Middlesbrough and Frank Lampard had replied in kind, substitute Kike secured victory for the visitors in stoppage time by finishing off a counter-attack led by Bamford.
“I can’t find words to explain my feelings today,” said Middlesbrough coach Aitor Karanka. “But I’m proud of the players, the crowd, the fans, the staff and the club.”
Asked if the Abu Dhabi trip had affected the result, Pellegrini told the BBC: “It’s easy to have an excuse, but I don’t think that was the case.”
Liverpool avoided the fate that befell Chelsea and City, but they were taken to a replay by Championship club Bolton following a 0-0 draw at Anfield.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who rested captain Steven Gerrard, saw his side dominate, but they could not find a way past Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.
Alan Pardew ended former club Southampton’s cup run as his Palace side twice came from behind to win 3-2 at St Mary’s, with Marouane Chamakh scoring twice and on-loan Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo opening his account for the club.
In the day’s other all-Premier League game, Leonardo Ulloa and Jeffrey Schlupp scored in the last seven minutes as Leicester City fought back to win 2-1 at Tottenham Hotspur.
Victor Anichebe scored both goals as West Bromwich Albion won 2-1 at Birmingham City, while Sunderland drew 0-0 at home to Fulham.
With Southampton beaten 3-2 by Crystal Palace, it means that none of the Premier League’s top three teams will feature in Monday’s fifth-round draw, blowing the competition wide open.
Manchester United, who are fourth in the Premier League, face a replay against fourth-division Cambridge United after a 0-0 away draw on Friday, while Bolton Wanderers earned a replay with Liverpool.