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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Everton stuns United in shootout to reach F.A. Cup final

WEMBLEY, England (AP) Everton reached an F.A. Cup final against Chelsea by beating Manchester United 4-2 in a penalty shootout on Sunday after the two sides played out a 0-0 draw at Wembley.

Tim Howard saved two penalties in the shootout against his former club and the Toffees will return to the home of English soccer to face the Blues on May 30. Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-1 in Saturday's semifinal, also at Wembley.

"It's one of the proudest moments of my career, to lead the team out at Wembley in the F.A. Cup final," said Everton captain Phil Neville, a former Man United player. "We've beaten the best side in the world. It's just a really proud moment."

Everton won the last of its five F.A. Cups by beating Man United in 1995 — its last major title — and now has ousted the record 11-time winner in the semifinal.

The shootout loss means that United's bid to become the first club to win five titles in one season is over. The Red Devils have already won the FIFA Club World Cup and the domestic League Cup and is also defending the Premier League and Champions League titles.

When the shootout came, Tim Cahill shot over the top but Dimitar Berbatov fired weakly at Howard, who saved with his legs. After Leighton Baines had beaten Ben Foster, Howard dived to his right to save from Rio Ferdinand. Although Nemanja Vidic and Anderson hit the target for Man United, Neville, James Vaughan and Phil Jagielka all netted for Everton.

In Sunday's Premier League games, Darren Bent's goal gave Tottenham a 1-0 victory over Newcastle to push the Magpies closer to relegation and Robinho scored his first in 12 games in Manchester City's 4-2 triumph over last-place West Bromwich Albion.

Bent scored in the 24th minute at White Hart Lane. Obafemi Martins missed a chance to equalize for Newcastle in the 87th.

Robinho, who had not scored since December, volleyed home a pass from Stephen Ireland in the eighth minute for Man City, and Nedum Onuoha made it 2-0 in the 21st. Chris Brunt scored twice as West Brom hit back to make it 2-2, but Elano scored a 56th-minute penalty and Daniel Sturridge added a fourth.

The loss left West Brom nine points away from safety with only five games to go.

Inquiry blasts clubs

LONDON (AP) Heavily indebted Premier League clubs Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool were accused by a British parliamentary committee Monday of engaging in "financial doping."

In 27 recommendations at the end of a yearlong inquiry, legislators urged England's soccer authorities to curb "ludicrous levels of borrowing" and the use of profits to service large debts.

The All Party Parliamentary Football Group is calling for heavy scrutiny of business plans ahead of any club takeovers, echoing the agenda of soccer's world governing body FIFA.

The group also backed FIFA's "six-plus-five rule" that would impose limits on foreign players, urging the British government to lobby the European Union to overlook its treaties on free movement.

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