Bradford stun Sunderland, Arsenal cruise

Third-division Bradford City continued their remarkable progress in the FA Cup by beating Premier League side Sunderland 2-0 to reach the quarterfinals yesterday evening, while holders Arsenal easily halted Middlesbrough.

Bradford, beaten League Cup finalists in 2013, stunned Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge in round four and pulled off another upset at Valley Parade, courtesy of a John O’Shea own goal and a strike by Jon Stead.

“There is always a danger because the expectancy might have been we would win this one after beating Chelsea, but we have kept that underdog spirit,” Bradford manager Phil Parkinson said.

Bradford, 37 places below league strugglers Sunderland in League One, have reached the last eight of the FA Cup for the first time since 1976, and will discover their next opponents in tomorrow’s draw.

Bradford’s fans had a goal to celebrate within three minutes of kick-off against Sunderland.

A Filipe Morais free-kick from wide found Billy Clarke at the back post and although his left-foot shot was flying well wide, it struck Sunderland captain O’Shea on the leg and cannoned into the net.

Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher had a penalty appeal waved away and goalkeeper Ben Williams saved from both Danny Graham and Patrick van Aanholt before Stead made it 2-0 in the 61st minute.

This time Sunderland winger Adam Johnson was at fault, dallying on the ball before playing a clearance straight to James Hanson, whose header freed Stead to squeeze a shot beneath visiting goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

The on-loan Huddersfield Town striker has now scored in all five rounds of this season’s competition.

A quick-fire first-half brace by Olivier Giroud was enough to give Arsenal a comfortable 2-0 victory at home to Championship high-fliers Middlesbrough, who had eliminated Manchester City in the 4th round of the FA Cup.

The French striker opened the scoring in the 27th minute at the Emirates Stadium in London, steering home a low cross from Kieran Gibbs.

Arsenal, who handed a debut to new defender Gabriel, added a second goal barely two minutes later when Giroud capitalised on inattentive marking to meet Alexis Sanchez’s left-sided corner with a deft near-post volley.

Middlesbrough’s best moment arrived deep in stoppage time, when Spanish striker Kike headed against the post.

Earlier, a half-time rallying cry from new manager Tim Sherwood inspired Aston Villa to beat league rivals Leicester City 2-1 at Villa Park.

Leicester enjoyed the best of the first half, but Sherwood, watching from the stands after being appointed as the successor to Paul Lambert at the weekend, made a visit to the home changing room at the interval and Villa were a different team in the second period.

A 68th-minute Leandro Bacuna curler put them ahead and a blunder by Leicester’s Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer allowed substitute Scott Sinclair to make it 2-0, before Andrej Kramaric headed in a late consolation.

On Sherwood’s intervention, Villa assistant manager Scott Marshall said: “He made a few points to the lads. They took them on and delivered.”

The fifth round concludes today when Manchester United visit League One side Preston North End for their third consecutive away tie against lower-league opposition.

On Saturday, Alan Pardew’s dream of reprising a celebrated 25-year-old FA Cup triumph was halted by Liverpool, as the seven-times champions came from behind to book a quarterfinal place with a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace.

Earlier, Nigerian

striker Brown Ideye scored twice as West Bromwich Albion progressed to the quarterfinals with an emphatic 4-0 victory against West Ham United.

Championship side Blackburn followed up the shocks with a Josh King hat-trick inspiring a win over Stoke.

Rudy Gestede first gave Blackburn the lead.

Reading joined Blackburn as the other non-league team in the last eight so far with a 2-1 defeat of fellow Championship side Derby County.

– Reuters

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