Third-division Bradford City continued their remarkable progress in the FA Cup by beating Premier League Sunderland 2-0 to reach the quarterfinals on Sunday, while holders Arsenal overcame Middlesbrough.Bradford, beaten League Cup finalists in 2013, stunned Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge in round four and they pulled off another upset at Valley Parade courtesy of a John O’Shea own goal and a strike by Sunderland old boy Jon Stead.
“There’s always a danger because the expectancy might have been we would win this one after beating Chelsea, but we’ve kept that underdog spirit,” Bradford manager Phil Parkinson told the BBC.
“After today we’d like another game at home. It’s incredible for all the players to experience that sell-out atmosphere. We had all three sides singing and behind the team and it raises the lads to the next level.”
Bradford, 37 places below Premier League strugglers Sunderland in League One, have reached the last eight for the first time since 1976 and will discover their next opponents in Monday’s draw.
Bradford’s fans witnessed home wins over Arsenal and Aston Villa during their side’s run to the League Cup final two years ago and they had a goal to celebrate within three minutes of kick-off against Sunderland.
Filipe Morais’s free-kick from wide on the right found Billy Clarke at the back post and although his left-foot shot was flying well wide, it struck Sunderland captain O’Shea on the leg and cannoned into the net.
Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher had a penalty appeal waved away and home goalkeeper Ben Williams saved from both Danny Graham and Patrick van Aanholt before Stead made it 2-0 in the 61st minute.
This time Sunderland winger Adam Johnson was at fault, dallying on the ball before playing a clearance straight to James Hanson, whose header freed Stead to squeeze a shot beneath visiting goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
The on-loan Huddersfield Town striker has now scored in all five rounds of this season’s competition.
Giroud double -
A quick-fire first-half brace by Olivier Giroud was enough to give Arsenal a comfortable 2-0 victory at home to Championship high-fliers Middlesbrough, who had eliminated Manchester City in the 4th round.
The French striker opened the scoring in the 27th minute at the Emirates Stadium, steering home a low cross from Kieran Gibbs.
Arsenal, who handed a debut to new defender Gabriel, added a second goal barely two minutes later when Giroud capitalised on inattentive marking to meet Alexis Sanchez’s left-sided corner with a deft near-post volley.
Middlesbrough’s best moment arrived deep in stoppage time, when Spanish striker Kike headed against the post.
Earlier, a halftime rallying cry from new manager Tim Sherwood inspired Aston Villa to beat Premier League rivals Leicester City 2-1 at Villa Park and book their place in the last eight.
Leicester enjoyed the best of the first half, but Sherwood, watching from the stands after being appointed as the successor to Paul Lambert on Saturday, made a visit to the home changing room at the interval and Villa were a different team in the second period.
Leandro Bacuna’s 68th-minute curler put them ahead and a blunder by Leicester’s Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer allowed substitute Scott Sinclair to make it 2-0 before Andrej Kramaric headed in a late consolation.
On Sherwood’s halftime intervention, Villa assistant manager Scott Marshall said: “Yeah, he came in there and made a few points to the lads. The boys took them on board and delivered it in the second half.”
The fifth round concludes on Monday when Manchester United visit League One side Preston North End. — Reuters