- Category: Soccer
- Published Saturday, March 7, 2015
- Toronto Sun
Aston Villa sank West Bromwich Albion 2-0 to become the first team to march into the FA Cup semifinals Saturday but the win was marred by chaotic crowd scenes with goalscorer Fabian Delph revealing he was bitten.
After giant-killers Bradford City played out a 0-0 draw with Reading in their quarterfinal, Villa's second victory over their local rivals in five days at Villa Park was a full-blooded affair featuring two sendings off and crowd disorder.
Villa captain Delph, whose 51st minute strike set them on the way to victory before Scott Sinclair finished the job five minutes from time, spoke of his alarm as he tried to leave the field at the end while engulfed by hundreds of celebrating fans.
"It was dangerous. Someone tried to take my boot off. People tried to kiss me and were biting me," the England international told the BBC. "It was very, very scary. My armband got nicked, someone got my left boot, but I could appreciate the relief the fans are feeling after a result like that."
Villa's euphoric day, as their resurgence continues under new manager Tim Sherwood, took a bad turn after two late sendings off -- Albion's Claudio Yacob and Villa substitute Jack Grealish -- added to the fevered atmosphere.
Some Albion fans appeared to rip out seats and hurl them on to the playing surface, while dozens of Villa supporters invaded the pitch in celebration even before referee Anthony Taylor had sounded the final whistle.
At the end, many more Villa fans flooded on to the field but as they swamped their Wembley-bound heroes, it had all seemed largely good-natured, if uncontrolled.
It all meant more derby misery for Albion, who had succumbed to defeat from a late penalty in the Premier League fixture at the same venue on Tuesday.
The visitors' anguish was made complete when, following what seemed a harsh second yellow card for Yacob for an innocuous challenge, Sinclair completed a sweet counter-attack with a delightful, curling finish five minutes from time.
Youngster Grealish then earned a second yellow card in stoppage for what was construed by referee Taylor, perhaps harshly, as a dive.
In the other last eight ties, Liverpool entertain Championship (second-tier) Blackburn Rovers on Sunday and holders Arsenal visit Manchester United on Monday.
While seven-times winners Villa can look forward to a Wembley appearance, third-tier Bradford, who knocked out Premier League leaders Chelsea and Sunderland in a remarkable run to the last eight, will have to try again to book their historic place.
They dominated much of the second half but were unable to break down the resolute defence of second-tier Reading at Valley Parade.
Despite living a charmed life, the visitors could have won it in the closing minutes when Oliver Norwood's looping free kick hit the post and caused havoc in the Bradford area.
"It was just two teams going at it 100 percent in a proper cup tie and it was difficult for both sides I think," Bradford forward Jon Stead told BT Sport.
"We're still in the hat but there's a little bit of disappointment because we've not got through.
"We (dominated) the second half so that we can take great credit from but it's half a job so we've still got to do the business down there."
Reading produced the first moment of quality when Russian Pavel Pogrebnyak's well-struck shot cannoned off the post.
Bradford carved out the next opportunity when Gary Liddle's teasing deep cross evaded everyone before clipping the outside of the post.
Stead, who had scored in all the previous rounds, was Bradford's focal point after halftime as they continued to lay siege to the visitors' goal.
The former Sunderland forward set up James Hanson to slide a shot inches wide before Andrew Davies's bullet header flew narrowly over the bar.