Ba strike sinks United and sends Blues through
Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United, FA Cup sixth round replay
Chelsea have successfully booked their place in the FA Cup semi-finals after Demba Ba's second-half strike sealed a 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Easter Monday.
Less than 48 hours after their shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of Southampton, Rafa Benitez's side responded positively in today's sixth round replay, setting up a tantalising tie with Manchester City at Wembley on April 14.
Both teams made numerous changes to their starting line-ups from Saturday's Premier League encounters two days earlier - Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney the most notable absentees for United, the Dutchman dropping to the bench, while Rooney missed out entirely through injury.
Meanwhile match-winner Ba returned to lead the Blues' line in place of the much-maligned Fernando Torres, and there were also recalls for Ashley Cole, David Luiz, Ramires, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.
Chelsea were forced into an early change in a cagey first-half display from both sides, when England left-back Cole came off injured after 21 minutes, and was replaced by the increasingly impressive Ryan Bertrand.
After the break, Ba edged the hosts ahead when he latched on well to Juan Mata's lofted pass forward, hooking the ball past outrushing Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea.
The game opened up as Sir Alex Ferguson's side chased an equaliser, and Petr Cech was called into action soon after the deadlock was broken, superbly denying Javier Hernandez from close-range.
But, after battling back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, Chelsea held on to bring themselves one step closer to a fifth FA Cup final appearance in the past seven seasons.
Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole (Bertrand 21'), Mikel, Ramires, Hazard, Mata, Oscar (Moses 90'), Ba (Torres 90').
Subs not used: Turnbull, Terry, Benayoun, Lampard.
Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Cleverley (Van Persie 61'), Carrick, Nani (Giggs 65'), Welbeck (Young 80'), Hernandez.
Subs not used: Lindegaard, Kagawa, Powell, Vermijl.
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Referee: Phil Dowd