LONDON: Holders Chelsea eased into the FA Cup quarterfinals with a 4-1 home victory over Championship (second division) side Cardiff City on Saturday while Portsmouth won by the same score at local rivals Southampton.
Reading, conquerors of Liverpool and Burnley in previous rounds, drew 2-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion after taking the lead after nine seconds in the all-Championship tie.
Birmingham City came from behind to win 2-1 at Championship side Derby County with a last-minute goal by Liam Ridgewell while Manchester City entertain Stoke City later on Saturday. While so many big clubs have fallen by the wayside in this season’s competition, Chelsea has reached the quarterfinals with little trouble.
Saturday’s game was preceded by a minute’s applause in honor of former Chelsea and Yugoslavia goalkeeper Petar Borota after he died at the age of 57.
Chelsea were ahead after two minutes with a Didier Drogba goal but with captain John Terry away on special leave, their vulnerability to the cross was exposed again after 34 minutes when Michael Chopra headed the equalizer.
It was one-way traffic in the second half though as Michael Ballack, Daniel Sturridge and Salomon Kalou sent the Londoners through.
“They played exceptionally well in the first half but fortunately we upped the tempo in the second and in the end it was easy for us,” Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins said.
“We are fortunate to have a squad of players who we can change. We took quality out and put quality in.”
Portsmouth, bottom of the Premier League and fighting for their existence in the High Court, were second best for a long time against League One (third division) Southampton in their first south-coast derby for five years.
Pompey though went ahead after 66 minutes with a neat curler by substitute Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, only for Rickie Lambert to nod the equalizer with his 25th goal of the season.
Aruna Dindane restored Portsmouth’s lead before Nadir Belhadj and Jamie O’Hara completed a rare win.
Jimmy Kebe’s goal for Reading was timed by his own club at nine seconds. Others clocked it at seven seconds, either way it trails the four-second effort by Ashton United’s Gareth Morris in an FA Cup qualifying match against Skelmersdale in 2001.
West Brom equalized through Robert Koren and again through Joe Mattock after Reading had led again through Simon Church after both teams had a player sent off in the second half.
In Sunday’s matches Bolton Wanderers host Tottenham Hotspur in an all-Premier clash, Notts County fly the fourth division flag at Fulham while Crystal Palace take on Aston Villa.