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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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Right by him: Chelsea's Florent Malouda scores past Tottenham goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini during their F.A. Cup semifinal match on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. Chelsea advanced to the final with a 5-1 win. AP

Chelsea reaches final; United stays on target


LONDON — Chelsea sealed a meeting with Liverpool in the F.A. Cup final after thrashing London rival Tottenham 5-1 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday thanks to some ruthless finishing and a controversial goal that will reignite the debate over goal-line technology.

The decision to award a 49th-minute goal to Juan Mata, putting Chelsea ahead 2-0, appeared to be wrong after video replays suggested the ball hadn't crossed the line when it was cleared away by Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

In the Premier League, Wayne Rooney scored twice as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 4-0 on Sunday to restore its five-point lead over crosstown rival Manchester City.

Mata's disputed goal added to Didier Drogba's superb opener just before halftime and although Gareth Bale pulled a goal back in the 56th, Chelsea sealed the victory through classy strikes by Ramires, Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda in the final 13 minutes.

"That second goal was a disaster," Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said. "It was an honest mistake but when you look at it, it was nowhere near over the line."

Despite eventually losing by a four-goal margin, Redknapp said referee Martin Atkinson's awarding of the second goal proved crucial as it forced him to go on the attack in the final 20 minutes, leaving his defense open.

"We need goal-line technology, surely. You can't have situations like that," said Redknapp, who revealed that Atkinson had acknowledged his mistake when the pair spoke after the match. "I'm not going to sit here and say we would have won. But if you aren't behind, you don't go and open up as we did."

Atkinson made the decision, not his linesman, even though there was a mass of bodies on the line after a number of players fell in a heap after competing for a high ball in a melee in the six-yard box.

"I find it hard to believe he could see it from where he was," Spurs defender Ledley King said.

When asked if Mata's goal proved to be the turning point in the match, Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo said: "I'm not sure. We had scored one by then and scored more afterwards.

"Sometimes you get a decision, sometimes you don't. But I can understand their frustration."

Former Villa player Ashley Young again came under scrutiny after appearing to exaggerate some contact with defender Ciaran Clark to earn a seventh-minute penalty at Old Trafford, which was converted by Rooney.

"I think he played for the penalty," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "I think it was a dramatic fall. He overdid the fall but it was a penalty, there's no doubt about that."

Young had won a penalty in United's previous home match after also appearing to fall easily in the box for the opening goal in the 2-0 win against Queens Park Rangers.

"I don't think it was a penalty," Villa manager Alex McLeish said. "I thought Ashley threw his leg into Ciaran Clark's leg. Ciaran was static. He planted his feet firmly in the ground and then he tried to pull his leg away."

Danny Welbeck got United's second goal in the 43rd, before Rooney scored again in the 74th and substitute Nani added a fourth in stoppage time as United bounced back from the surprise 1-0 loss at Wigan on Wednesday.

With four rounds left, the win left United in prime position to secure a 20th league title.

Hearts to face Hibs


GLASGOW, Scotland — Hearts scored an injury-time penalty to upset Celtic 2-1 on Sunday and set up a meeting with Edinburgh rival Hibernian in the Scottish Cup final.

Substitute Craig Beattie, a former Celtic player, converted a spot kick that was awarded after Joe Ledley blocked a shot from Marius Zaliuskas with his arm.

Celtic, which lost to Kilmarnock in the final of the Scottish League Cup on its last visit to the national stadium, protested vehemently, with manager Neil Lennon approaching the referee after the fulltime whistle.

Gary Hooper looked like he would be sending the match into extra time after scoring Celtic's equalizer in the 87th minute.

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