Chelsea’s David Luiz, right, falls from the tackle of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero during their English FA Cup semifinal match at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday.
LONDON — Manchester City reached the FA Cup final by beating defending champion Chelsea 2-1 in a free-flowing game at Wembley on Sunday.
Goals by Samir Nasri in the 35th minute and Sergio Aguero in the 47th built a 2-0 lead, and Demba Ba pulled the Blues back into the game with an acrobatic finish in the 66th. Ba wasted his team’s best chance to tie it when he fired straight at goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon from close range minutes later.
“It is another great day for the club,” City captain Vincent Kompany said. “We never doubted the fact that we wanted to win trophies. This was an important game and it will be an even more important game in the final against Wigan. That is what we are looking forward to now.”
City will be a huge favorite in the May 11 final against Wigan, which beat Millwall 2-0 on Saturday. Chelsea beat Liverpool in last year’s final, but its only hope for a trophy is now in the Europa League, where it has reached the semifinals.
A day after Wigan’s victory was marred by Millwall fans fighting in the stands at Wembley, City and Chelsea combined to put the focus firmly back on soccer as they produced an entertaining end-to-end game played at a relentless pace.
The opening goal was set up by a run by Yaya Toure, who found Aguero free in the area. The Argentine laid off the ball to Nasri, who tried to play a 1-2 with Aguero — only for the ball to ricochet back to the Frenchman off Cesar Azpilicueta. Augero calmly slotted it past keeper Petr Cech.
Many fans were still making their way back to their seats after the halftime break when Gareth Barry sent a cross into the area and Aguero rose to put in a looping header off the post.
Just seconds after manager Rafa Benitez put in Fernando Torres as an extra attacking threat, Ba met a high bouncing ball in the area, turned in the air and sent a shot past a diving Pantilimon.
In the Premier League, Manchester United won 2-0 at Stoke, getting a goal from Michael Carrick in the fourth minute and a penalty kick by Robin van Persie in the 66th after the Dutch forward was fouled by Andy Wilkinson.
Closing on a record 20th English league title, United (26-4-2) opened a 15-point lead over second-place Manchester City (19-4-8), the defending champion.
Stephan Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and David Vaughan scored spectacular goals to give Sunderland a 3-0 win at Newcastle, Paolo Di Canio’s first victory as manager. Sunderland (8-15-10) moved three points clear of 18th-place Wigan, which has 31 and is in the relegation zone along with Queens Park Rangers and Reading (24 points each).
Real Madrid 3, Bilbao 0
BARCELONA, Spain — Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to reach 50 goals for the third straight season, helping Real Madrid win 3-0 at Athletic Bilbao.
Ronaldo scored on a free kick in the second minute, got his second goal in the 69th and fed Gonzalo Higuain for the third goal in the 76th.
Barcelona rested Lionel Messi in a 3-0 win at Real Zaragoza, giving his injured hamstring more time to heal.
Thiago Alcantara scored in the 20th minute, and Cristian Tello added goals in the 39th and 53rd for Barcelona (26-2-3), which maintained a 13-point lead over defending champion Real Madrid (21-5-5) with seven games left.
Ronaldo has 31 league goals, 12 behind Messi’s league-leading total.
AZ 6, Utrecht 0
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — American forward Jozy Altidore scored his third hat trick of the season during a 10-minute span of the first half and raised his goals total to 28 in AZ Almaar’s 6-0 rout of Utrecht in the Dutch Eredivisie.
Altidore converted penalty kicks in the 28th and 34th minutes after he was fouled by Anour Kali and Willie Overtoom was fouled by Jan Wuytens. Kali was given a red card and Wuytens his second yellow card, leaving Utrecht two men short.
Altidore scored on a header in the 37th minute. He also had three-goal games Sept. 16 against Roda JC and Jan. 19 versus Vitesse Arnhem. The 23-year-old has 21 league goals.
AC Milan 1, Napoli 1
MILAN — AC Milan was held to a 1-1 tie by visiting Napoli in the battle for second place in Serie A and Italy’s last automatic berth in next year’s Champions League.
Mathieu Flamini put Milan ahead in the 30th minute, but Goran Pandev tied the score three minutes later. Flamini received a red card in the 72nd for a poor tackle on Juan Camilo Zuniga.
Napoli (18-5-9) has 63 points, four ahead of AC Milan (17-7-8) with six games left. First-place Juventus (22-4-5), which has 71, is at Lazio on Monday.
The top two teams qualify for the Champions League group stage, and the third-place team enters in the playoff round.
Marseille 0, Lille 0
PARIS — Marseille’s slim French league title hopes diminished with a 0-0 tie at Lille.
Paris Saint-Germain (20-5-7) has a nine-point lead over second-place Marseille (17-8-7) with six games remaining.MORE IN Sports WireYou might say the Minnesota Vikings are pondering a quarterbacking dilemma. Full Story
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