Slick Arsenal return to form against Burnley; Everton progress past Boro to the FA Cup semis

Arsenal 3 – Burnley 0 (FA Cup, March 8, 2009) (Longer highlights here and extended ITV highlights here.) The fifth round FA Cup match at the Emirates started at a pedestrian pace with Kieron Gibbs firing a volley wide on the quarter hour, but 25 minutes in Arsenal pounced. Arshavin slipped a ball to Carlos Vela who weaved his way into the box and produced a cute chipped finish for the opener. (First half highlights here.) Arsenal pressed home their advantage of the break as Eduardo da Silva timed a run to perfection before expertly volleying home a Song cross. The Gunners, who could have scored at least six, added a third at the death as Emmanuel Eboue benefitted from Song’s neat backheel to fire home the third. (Second half highlights here.)

Everton 2 – Middlesbrough 1 (FA Cup, March 8, 2009) (Extended ITV highlights here.) Middlesbrough looked to upset the Everton apple cart as they wrestled the lead on the stroke of halftime, Matthew Bates picked up a loose clearance on the right and his cross was converted by David Wheater. (First half highlights here.) The Toffees levelled at the start of the second half, Cahill swung in a cross from the right and Marouane Fellaini used his massive head to beat Robert Huth to the ball and guide his effort over a wandering Brad Jones. And Boro’s failure to cut out crosses cost them dear as they conceded another after Pienaar teed up Louis Saha for a second.

The FA Cup semi-final draw can be seen here.


Plymouth 2  – Reading 2 (Championship, March 7, 2009) Paul Sturrock’s revitalised Pilgrims looked to be making more progress as they twice went in front through Paul Gallagher (20) and a stunner from Jamie Mackie (56). But the Royals, who saw Wolves and Birmingham both claim victories, twice levelled through Alex Pearce (22) and Jimmy Kebe (80).

Cardiff 3 – Doncaster 0 (Championship, March 7, 2009) Michael Chopra scored his third since returning to Cardiff before Jay Bothroyd volleyed home the second. Eddie Johnson then bagged his first Cardiff goal on the hour to seal a comfortable win.

Bristol Rovers 2 – Leeds 2 (League One, March 7, 2009) Jeff Hughes’s opening volley for Rovers was wiped out by a Luciano Becchio and a fine Robert Snodgrass free-kick. But Rovers refused to lose, and Jo Kuffour controlled expertly before firing in an last minute equaliser.