City regain FA Cup ‘focus’, join Chelsea in semis

Updated June 30, 2020

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NEWCASTLE: Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling (C) celebrates after scoring during the FA Cup quarter-final againat Newcastle United at St James’ Park. — Reuters
NEWCASTLE: Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling (C) celebrates after scoring during the FA Cup quarter-final againat Newcastle United at St James’ Park. — Reuters

LONDON: Pep Guardiola believes it is easier for Manchester City to focus on cup glory for the rest of the season as the holders reached the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win at Newcastle Unitedon Sunday.

City conceded the Premier League title to runaway champions Liverpool this week, and must beat 13-time FA Cup winner Arsenal to reach another Cup final.

Chelsea will face 12-time winners Manchester United in the other semi-final.after they won 1-0 at Leicester City thanks to Ross Barkley’s winner.

Games will be held July 18-19 at Wembley with no fans present.

Kevin De Bruyne’s penalty and a stunning strike from Raheem Sterling got City back to winning ways on Tyneside after a 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in midweek crowned Liverpool Premier League champions for the first time in 30 years.

In the Premier League we are struggling to focus,” admitted Guardiola. Now the Cup and the Champions League it is a little bit different.”

De Bruyne put City ahead from the penalty spot in the 37th minute of a dominant first half. Dwight Gayle missed a great chance to equalise for Newcastle midway through the second half, blazing Allan Saint-Maximin’s pinpoint cross over from close range.

It was a rare opportunity for Steve Bruce’s side and a costly miss as Sterling scored moments later, curling a shot in from the edge of the box following a quick counterattack in the 68th.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard made six changes to the team that beat City and was nearly made to pay by a very slow start from his side at the King Power.

Harvey Barnes, Wilfred Ndidi and Jonny Evans wasted chances for Leicester as Lampard could be heard bellowing “liven up” at his sloppy stars.

The former England midfielder showed his dissatisfaction by sending on Barkley, Mateo Kovacic and Cesar Azpilicueta at half-time.

Chelsea instantly looked more vibrant after the changes and took the lead in the 63rd minute. Willian swung in a teasing cross from the right and Barkley got in front of Evans to guide a clinical finish past Kasper Schmeichel.

It is a learning experience. I could have taken more off. I am not pulling those out on their own,” Lampard said after hauling off youngsters Mason Mount, Reece James and Billy Gilmour. They will be top players for this club and have top careers. But if I have to do something in games I will do it. They will take it on the chin.”

In Sunday’s only Premier League game, striker Danny Ings scored twice to reach 18 goals as Southampton won 3-1 at struggling Watford.

Ings struck in each half to move one goal behind top scorer Jamie Vardy, who is enduring a lean spell for third-placed Leicester.

Southampton moved up one place to 13th and is a comfortable 13 points clear of the relegation zone. But 16th-place Watford remain one point above the drop zone with six games left.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2020