LONDON (AP) — Demba Ba sent Chelsea into the FA Cup semifinals with a 1-0 victory over Manchester United on Monday.
The quarterfinal replay was decided four minutes into the second half when Ba hooked the ball over goalkeeper David De Gea to set up a Wembley Stadium meeting with Manchester City.
There was little De Gea could do to keep out the winner.
Juan Mata lobbed a pass over the United defense and Ba raced past Rio Ferdinand and hooked a volley over De Gea while almost sideways in the air.
“It was a brilliant pass from Juan,” Ba said. “For Newcastle, I scored quite a similar goal against Man United. It reminded me of that.”
As it did United manager Alex Ferguson.
“We had the experience from Newcastle a couple of years back when he scored exactly the same type of goal,” Ferguson said. “We had to be aware of that movement and we were caught napping, to be honest.”
While Chelsea also has a Europa League quarterfinal on Thursday, United can win no trophies except for the Premier League, where it holds a seemingly insurmountable 15-point lead.
United was denied an equalizer on Petr Cech’s stunning one-handed save to block Javier Hernandez’s close-range header. That save even had Hernandez congratulating the goalkeeper.
Antonio Valencia surged forward and whipped a cross that Hernandez met with a diving header. Cech tipped it away with his left hand.
Chelsea is on course for a fifth FA Cup triumph in seven seasons, but is only fourth in league play following Saturday’s loss at Southampton.
“The priority is the top four … the race for the top four will be until the end of the season,” interim manager Rafa Benitez said. “We’re in the top four with a game in hand. We’re in a very good position, the semifinals of the FA Cup and the quarterfinals of the Europa League.”
Chelsea will play Manchester City on April 14 at Wembley, a day after Wigan takes on Millwall in the other FA Cup semifinal.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.