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Monday, April 18, 2011

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City slickers: Manchester City's Nigel de Jong (right) vies for the ball with Manchester United's Paul Scholes during their F.A. Cup semifinal on Saturday at Wembley Stadium. AP

City gets better of neighbor United to reach F.A. Cup final


WEMBLEY, England — Yaya Toure exploited Manchester United's calamitous defending to put Manchester City into the F.A. Cup final with a 1-0 victory on Saturday that keeps the team on course to end a 35-year trophy drought.

Toure netted in the 52nd minute at Wembley Stadium after poor clearances from both United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and midfielder Michael Carrick.

United was reduced to 10 men in the 72nd when Paul Scholes was sent off for a dangerous, high lunge on Pablo Zabaleta, and the match ended with City striker Mario Balotelli clashing with United midfielder Anderson.

City was overrun for most of the first half and Dimitar Berbatov should have put United ahead when he lofted the ball over from close range in front of an unguarded net.

In the final on May 14, City will play for its first trophy since the 1976 League Cup against the winner of Sunday's semifinal between Stoke and Bolton.

City's fierce rival, though, remains in contention for two more prestigious trophies. Alex Ferguson's side is seven points clear at the top of the Premier League and will return to Wembley for the Champions League final next month if it can overcome Schalke in the semifinals.

City will see this victory as a sign that the balance in power could be shifting thanks to around £1 billion ($1.6 billion) investment by owner Sheikh Mansour since 2008.

"The boys are over the moon, the club are over the moon, but nothing has been won yet," City goalkeeper Joe Hart said.

Chelsea stays alive

LONDON (AP) Chelsea kept alive its faint hopes of retaining the Premier League title with a 3-1 win at West Bromwich Albion that moved the defending champions to within eight points of leader Manchester United on Saturday.

With United playing local rival Manchester City in the semifinals of the F.A. Cup, Chelsea recovered from 1-0 down at the Hawthorns through goals by Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Frank Lampard.

Chelsea has 61 points with six games remaining, one point behind second-place Arsenal, which was scheduled to host Liverpool on Sunday.

Everton continued its late-season rally with a 2-0 win over Blackburn, while Birmingham eased its relegation worries with a 2-0 win over Sunderland and Aston Villa did likewise with a 2-1 win at West Ham.

The Hammers had led through Robbie Keane's second-minute goal but dropped to 19th place as Wigan moved off the bottom of the standings with a 3-1 win at Blackpool that pushed its opponent into the three-team relegation zone.

After elimination from the Champions League on Tuesday with defeat at Manchester United, Chelsea's week got even worse in the 17th minute at West Brom. Peter Odemwingie raced clear and lifted the ball over goalkeeper Petr Cech for his 12th league goal of the season.

But Chelsea trailed for only five minutes as the 33-year-old Drogba equalized with his 11th Premier League goal of the season, tapping in after fullback Nicky Shorey cleared a cross straight to the Cote d'Ivoire striker.

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