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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blues shrug off Stoke test

LONDON (AP) Defending champion Chelsea beat Stoke 2-0 on Sunday to line up an F.A. Cup semifinal against Aston Villa, which needed a second-half hat-trick from John Carew to win 4-2 at Reading.

Frank Lampard and captain John Terry scored Chelsea's goals at Stamford Bridge against a Stoke side which had knocked Arsenal and Manchester City out of the competition.

Lampard fired home the first in the 35th minute with a deflected 20-meter drive after he was set up for the shot by Terry. In the 67th minute, Lampard's corner found Terry who scored the second with a deflected header.

"It's never easy after a defeat like last week, we didn't play to our standards but came back determined to put it right," Lampard said in reference to a 4-2 Premier League loss at home to Manchester City. "It was a difficult game and we handled it very well.

"Wembley is a great day out for the fans, we hold the trophy at the minute and we want to get back there."

Trailing to two first-half strikes by Reading's Shane Long, Villa scored three times in 11 minutes early in the second half and Carew added a fourth from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

The result means Villa gets to return to Wembley in April, after losing to Manchester United in the League Cup final at the home of English soccer a week ago.

"It was a great spell by us just after halftime and we needed to do something because we had played so meekly in the first half," said Villa manager Martin O'Neill, who said he started Carew only because Gabriel Agbonlahor was taken ill during the morning.

"I think after all the effort that we have put in in both cups this season, to go out as meekly as we might have done would have been very disappointing. But I am delighted with the team, we have showed great character."

Struggling near the relegation zone in the League Championship, Reading had already knocked out Liverpool in the third round of the cup and another shock appeared likely after Long's first half goals at the Madejski Stadium.

Matt Mills jumped well to head a corner into the goalmouth and Long was unmarked to deflect the ball past goalkeeper Brad Friedel in the 27th minute.

Reading went further ahead just before halftime when Jimmy Kebe broke down the right and pulled the ball back for Long to beat Friedel.

But Villa hit back within two minutes of the restart when Carew's pass was flicked on by Carlos Cuellar to Ashley Young, who turned the ball home at the far post.

It was 2-2 in the 51st when Carew beat two defenders in the air to meet a cross from Stewart Downing and head home, and the Norwegian striker added the third in the 57th when he guided home a cross from Stephen Warnock.

Reading was close to equalizing when Ivar Ingimarsson saw a header cleared off the line by Young. But it was all over when Carew was tripped by Ingimarsson in the area and he fired the spot kick into the roof of the net.

In Sunday's only Premier League game, Everton outplayed Hull in a 5-1 victory to move up two places to eighth and leave the visitor in deeper relegation trouble.

Having missed the first half of the season through injury, Mikel Arteta scored his first of the campaign in the 17th minute when he turned home a cross from Ayegbeni Yakubu.

Although Tom Cairney made it 1-1 with a left foot volley in the 32nd minute for his first Premier League goal, Arteta restored Everton's lead in the 39th and a cross from the Spanish midfielder was headed into his own net by Hull's Richard Garcia from virtually under the crossbar.

Landon Donovan, who is on loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy, showed why the Everton fans want him to stay longer when he drove home the fourth with a right footed shot in the 82nd minute and then set up the fifth for Jack Rodwell.

Genoa holds Inter

MILAN , Italy (AP) Inter Milan was held to a goalless draw at home to Genoa on Sunday, but stayed four points clear at the top of the Serie A.

Jose Mourinho's side dominated the match, but was often let down by wayward shooting or a poor final ball that allowed Genoa's defense time to clear and reorganize.

"It was a poor performance, but you need to consider the circumstances," Inter technical director Marco Branca said. "We've played a lot of games recently and then in midweek a lot of our players were away with their national teams, so considering all this it was a good point."

Inter remains top with 59 points, four ahead of AC Milan and seven of AS Roma in third. Milan drew 0-0 with Roma on Saturday.

"We played our game and gave our all," Branca said.



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