Peep! Peeeep! Peeeeeeeep! It's all over and Chelsea's extraordinary run of success in the FA Cup continues. They'll face Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, with the winners to take on Millwall or Wigan in the final. That's all from me for today, thanks for your time and your emails.
90+4 min: We're in the last of four minutes of stoppage time and Phil Dowd looks at his watch ...
90+3 min: Demba Ba goes off to warm applause from Chelsea fans and is replaced by Fernando Torres. As things stand, Ba's goal is the difference between the two sides and it was a fine athletic strike that was fit to win any game of football. Will it win this one, though?
92 min: It doesn't take Victor Moses long to make an impression. With the ball at his feet he finds a yard in the Manchester United penalty area, but instead of shooting with his left foot, attempts to take the ball on to his right and ends up falling over.
89 min: Oscar picks up a yellow card, while I had my head down typing. "Did you see why he got booked?" I ask my colleague Jacob Steinberg. "Foul," comes the helpful reply. Chelsea substitution: Oscar off, Victor Moses on.
87 min: Robin van Persie misses a glorious opportunity to equalise, volleying high over the bar from eight yards out after being picked out by an inch-perfect pull-back from Patrice Evra, who'd got in behind the Chelsea defence. Van Persie's disgusted with himself and buries his head in his hands - you'd expect him to put a chance like that away in his sleep.
85 min: Oscar shoots from the edge of the penalty area, but his surface to air drive whistles high and wide of the angle formed by crossbar and left upright.
82 min: "I think it was Alan Wiley who was accused of being unfit by Fergie," writes Roy Allen, correcting Ian Copestake's outrageous error at half-time. "Even the FA sat up and took notice and gave him a fine and touchline ban."
79 min: Manchester United substitution: Ashley Young on, Danny Welbeck off. He's played very well today, but failed to score again. Story of his career, really.
78 min: Michael Carrick tries a shot from a few yards outside the Chelsea penalty area, but his effort is blocked. Chelsea embark on a quick counter-attack and Juan Mata attempts to pick out Ramires with a marvellous weighted pass from deep. Patrice Evra intercepts and clears.
77 min: Cesar Azpilicueta gets booked for a foul on - I think - Danny Welbeck.
74 min: "I've been watching football almost 50 years and I'm struggling to think of a better save than that," writes Rob Jacques in Freiburg. None leap to my mind either, Rob. It was a bit like that famous David Seaman save from Paul Peschisolidio in a match between Arsenal and - I think - Sheffield United, except in this instance the ball was traveling a heck of a lot faster than Paul Pesc's comparatively weak effort. Danny Welbeck's cross was well struck and Hernandez met the ball perfectly.
73 min: Chelsea turn the screw, with Eden Hazard capitalising on a poor header from Phil Jones to roll the ball across the edge of the Manchester United penalty area to tee up Ramires. From a very promising position, the Brazilian shoots high and wide.
71 min: For all my first-half carping, this game has served up a marvellous goal and one of the best saves I've ever seen. Make sure to get a look at both on a highlights show later, if possible.
67 min: Eden Hazard pounces on a stray pass from Michael Carrick and darts between Manchester United's centre-backs before slotting his low diagonal effort a couple of feet wide of the right upright. That's a let-off for United - you'd have backed the Belgian to score there. Well, I would have.
64 min: Juan Mata goes close to doubling Chelsea's lead, shooting towards the near post from distance and forcing a good save out of De Gea, who concedes a corner from which nothing comes. Manchester United substitutions: Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie on, Tom Cleverley and Nani off. It wasn't a double substitution, I hasten to add - RVP came on a few minutes ago but in all the excitement I didn't get around to mentioning it.
61 min: From four yards out, Javier Hernandez gets on the end of a viciously sHis bullet-header looks goalbound, only for Petr Cech to pull off an extraordinary save, contorting his body in mid-air to bat the ball clear with one hand. That was a great effort by Hernandez foiled by a truly remarkable save from Cech.
60 min: Ryan Bertrand gets booked for a cynical trip on Javier Hernandez.
58 min: More Chelsea pressure, with Hazard and Mata pulling the strings. After good donkey-work from Ramires, who crosses from right to left across the face of United's goal, they take turns to clip the ball into the penalty area, trying to pick out Demba Ba, who wins a corner.
55 min: Nani and Antonio Valencia link up well down the right flank, allowing the Ecuadorian to cross for Danny Welbeck in the Chelsea penalty area. The United striker controls the ball on his chest, but is penalised for a surreptitious shove in the back of Cesar Azpilicuta a split-second before doing so. Good refereeing from Phil Dowd.
54 min: Tom Cleverley gets booked for a late lunge on Ramires. That goal appears to have jolted a couple of players from both teams out of their torpor, which is no bad thing.
52 min: That really was sublime from Ba. He had to beat Ferdinand and stretch every sinew in his effort to get on the end of that pass, while simultaneously looking over his shoulder to monitor the ball's whereabouts.
GOAL! Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United (Ba 49) That's a splendid finish from Demba Ba, who gets in front of Rio Ferdinand and steer the ball past David De Gea after stretching out his leg to get on the end of an inch-perfect Juan Mata pass over the top. Despite being at full stretch, he send the ball looping past De Gea to land just inside the left upright.
Second half: With no changes in personnel to either side, Manchester United get the ball rolling. Should the deadlock remain unbroken after 90 minutes, there will be extra-time and possibly penalties. I wouldn't imagine I'm the only person watching this game that's dreading such a prospect.
Podcast corner: Want an uninspiring soundtrack to accompany this uninspiring match? Here's today's episode of Football Weekly, with AC Jimbo trying to control the unruly rabble that is myself, Gregg Bakowsk and Jacob Steinberg, with added Sid Lowe and Raphael Honigstein on the phone. |Apart from one Championship match that wasn't discussed, I barely saw a kick of football this weekend, so I'm not sure what I was doing on it.
Some half-time analysis
"United's best players, Carrick and Welbeck, are very good so far," writes Philip Podolsky. "Unfortunately for United, it's something like Danny Murphy good we're talking here, rather than Ronaldinho circa 2005 good."
"Was Phil Dowd not deemed literally unfit to be a premiership referee by Lord Sir Fergie?" asks Ian Copestake. "I look forward to that narrative coming back into play when Man Utd lose."
"Perhaps this dire spectacle of a match will make the FA think again the next time they consider making two teams play an early prime time kick-off less than 48 hours after their previous competitive game," writes Ben Mohammadi. "Of course it was going to be an uninspiring scrappy affair."
Half-time: Phil Dowd blows for the interval of a game that was decidedly poor for the opening half-hour, but picked up a bit in the last 10 or 15 minutes. It's all square, but this match and the chance of a Wembley semi-final against Manchester City is there for the taking for whichever side can rouse themselves, grab this contest by the scruff and give it a damned good shaking ... so to speak.
45 min: More good play from the industrious and lively Hazard, the stand-out player on the field thus far. Probing down the inside right channel, he tries to slip the ball into the path of Demba Ba in the penalty area, but his pass is intercepted.
44 min: Between those Manchester United efforts, Chelsea also went close. Eden Hazard cut in from the left flank, exchanged passes with Oscar and wellied the ball over the cross-bar. Over the top, but not by much.
39 min: Javier Hernandez goes close to opening the scoring with a viciously swerving effort with reverse swing that completely fools Cech. The Chelsea goalkeeper dives to palm the ball away from where he thinks it's heading but ends up having to hook it clear with his right foot. He'd have looked a prize chump if that had gone in.
38 min: Nani tries his luck with a long range effort that bounces in front of Petr Cech in the Chelsea six-yard box before fizzing just a foot or two wide of the right upright.
37 min: Eden Hazard wins a corner for Chelsea, chasing down an apparent lost cause and forcing Antonio Valencia to put the ball out of play. The Belgian takes the corner himself, sending the ball winging towards David Luiz. Manchester United clear.
35 min: Nani goes down injured after shipping an accidental elbow in the chops from John Obi-Mikel. It's nothing serious and after a quick consultation with the physio, he's fit to continue.
34 min: Cheklsea win a free-kick on the left, about 30 yards out, in line with the left edge of the penalty area. David Luiz shoots high over the two-man wall comprised of Nani and Hernandez and continues its path over the crossbar and into Row Z.
33 min: Demba Ba tries his luck with a similar shot from the left-hand side of the Chelsea penalty areas, but his effort is far less venomous than the previous one and is smothered by Chris Smalling.
31 min: Eden Hazard runs into space just outside the Manchester United penalty area before deftly passing the ball into the path of Demba Ba, who unleashes a low diagonal drive. It's on target, but David De Gea saves with his feet.
31 min: This from top Guardian photographer Tom Jenkins, who was also at the Boat Race yesterday.
28 min: Javier Hernandez squanders an excellent chance to at least fire off a shot on goal. Have run across the face of the the penalty area, turning David Luiz inside-out in the process, he stole a yard on the Brazilian centre-half but, instead of unleashing a shot, attempted to cut back in the other direction, only to fall over and lose possession.
27 min:It should probably go without saying that Rio Ferdinand is being booed every time he touches the ball ... or indeed looks like he might be about to touch the ball. "Are Chelsea fans booing Rio for being the brother of the player their captain racially abused or for choosing not to play for England?" asks Brian Kitt.
24 min: Bad news for Chelsea fans, by the way - Ashley Cole pulled up with a hamstring injury upon being out-run by Danny Welbeck a few moments ago. He's had to go off and has been replaced by Ryan Bertrand in a like for like substitution. That is aggravation Chelsea could do without, not least because they have eight matches to play in the next 23 or 24 days.
23 min: "It's just parked in a lay-by, this game, with a quarter gone," says ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley. He's not wrong - it's woeful, scrappy stuff. Some of the passing has been appalling and players from both teams keep giving the ball away.
21 min: Excellent play from Danny Welbeck, who goes galloping out of defence again, taking the ball around Ashley Cole as he does so before picking out Nani. He attempts to play the ball into the path of Javier Hernandez, but his pass is poor and goes straight to Ivanovic. Oh, Nani.
18 min: Nani really is having a bad day at the office. He gifts possession to Eden Hazard only for the ball to find it's way back to him moments later. This time he gives it to Oscar.
15 min: On the edge of the final third, Michael Carrick plays the ball across to Phil Jones on the inside-right, but an agricultural clearance towards Demba Ba puts an end to Manchester United's best passing move of the match. This is fairly uninspiring, insipid fare.
12 min: Not for the first time, Chelsea patiently poke and prod at United's defences, searching for an opening. After what seems like an eternity, a loose pass from Ashley Cole allows United to clear. The ball is sent towards Nani on the right flank, but once again his touch deserts him and he loses the ball. "He's having one, as they say," muses ITV co-commentator Andy Townsend. The shocker Nani's having has also been noted by his manager, who has visibly tut-tutted at least one of the Portuguese's leaden touches.
9 min: Danny Welbeck goes on a rampaging run from box-to-box, but is dispossessed by a good tackle from Branislav Ivanovic, who performed heroics just to catch up with the Manchester United striker.
8 min: Manchester United launch a sortie into Chelsea territory, but concede possession when a poor first touch from Nani results in the ball clanking off his shin and out for a throw-in.
6 min: Chelsea pass the ball around in midfield in a bid to find an opening of sorts. It's pinged forward towards Oscar, standing with his back to goal and Rio Ferdinand is quick out of the penalty area to clear before the Chelsea winger can control it.
4 min: It's all Chelsea in the opening minutes. Cesar Azpilicuta wanders down the right touchline with the ball at his feet and passes inside to Oscar, who turns Patrice Evra beautifully and attempts to pull the ball back and tee up Eden Hazard. Phil Jones makes the crucial interception. That was a delightful bit of skill from Oscar.
2 min: Juan Mata picks up the ball in midfield, evbbentually pings it out wide to Ramires on the right flank, where the Brazilian is robbed by Antonio Valencia. What's he doing over there?
1 min: Chelsea kick off, playing from right to left. Manchester United appear to have lined up with Antonio Valencia playing at right-back, with Nani in front of him on the right wing.
Handshake update from Barney Ronay ...
The Guardian is mobhanded at the Bridge today ...
I believe Dominic Fifield is also there, but I'm worried by his radio silence.
This from Barney Ronay at Stamford Bridge
An email from Roy Allen
"Rooney has 'picked up a niggle' has he?" he writes in a missive dripping with cynicism. "Does anyone believe this? Surely the truth is a behind-the-scenes falling out with Fergie over his ongoing refueling issues, which presages a summer of speculation about his departure ending in a £15m move to Spurs? I hope you're wearing a rowing blazer."
I am not wearing a rowing blazer.
Sir Alex Ferguson speaks ...
"I'm trying to freshen things up as much as I can ... we had a game on Saturday lunchtime and we've a game today, so I need to freshen things up." He goes on to confirm that Wayne Rooney has a groin strain but should be recovered by this day week. "It's a hard game today with two good teams," he adds. "Anything can happen but I think we're ready for it."
Jim White from the Telegraph tweets ...
Jim and I shared a romantic boat-ride down the Thames yesterday afternoon, in one of the launches following the Boat Race, which is entirely relevant here because it passes Chelsea defender David Luiz's well-appointed Putney apartment. It was a very enjoyable but bitterly cold afternoon on the water. You can read all about it here.
Rafa Benitez speaks ...
He explains the absence of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres from the Chelsea side by pointing out that he needs to manage his squad carefully because this is Chelsea's second match in 48 hours and that they need to be rested ahead of Thursday's Europa League match against the Russian side Rubin Kazan.
This interview is well worth reading ...
Chelsea right-back César Azpilicueta (Dave to his team-mates) spoke to Sid Lowe recently and this is how their conversation panned out.
Wayne Rooney conspicuous by his absence
The word on Twitter is that Sir Alex Ferguson told ITV that he suffered a groin injury while on England duty. With Robin van Persie on the bench, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez start up front for Manchester United.
Today's line-ups ...
Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicuta, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Ramires; Hazard, Mata, Oscar; Ba.
Subs: Turnbull, Lampard, Torres, Moses, Terry, Benayoun, Bertrand.
Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Cleverley, Carrick, Nani; Welbeck, Hernandez.
Subs: Lindegaard, Giggs, Young, RVP, Powell, Kagawa, Vermijl
Ref: Phil Dowd
Good afternoon everybody ...
Happy Easter one and all and welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of this FA Cup quarter-final replay between Chelsea and Manchester United, the latest exchange of fire ongoing feud between Rafa Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson. The hosts come into this match on the back of a not entirely surprising defeat at the hands of rejuvenated Southampton, while Manchester United arrive at Stamford Bridge having put Sunderland to the sword in what I'm told was a not entirely convincing1-0 win over Sunderland, that resulted in Martin O'Neill being replaced by Mr Paolo Di Canio. I didn't see that particular match as I was en route to Peterborough at the time to cover their win over Cardiff City.
Our chief football correspondent Daniel Taylor is at Stamford Bridge today, as he was at Old Trafford for the 2-2 draw that led to this afternoon's replay. You can read his report on that entertaining match by clicking on this link. In the meantime, I'm, going to scurry off into cyberspace, ferret around and see if I can find any team news.