Manchester City will meet Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final after winning an enthralling Wembley encounter with Chelsea.
The 2011 winners looked on course for a comfortable victory as goals either side of half-time from Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero gave them the lead their dominance deserved.
Chelsea, to their great credit given their recent arduous schedule, somehow summoned up reserves of strength and resilience after Demba Ba's stunning goal set up a grandstand finish that could have forced extra time.
Chelsea were very good in the last 30 minutes. The change to bring on Fernando Torres had a fantastic effect immediately. From then, it was all Chelsea. You need someone to find space in the box, and could you name a better player to do that than Frank Lampard?
The rejuvenated holders pressed for an equaliser that seemed unlikely for long periods and it took some key interventions from Joe Hart's deputy Costel Pantilimon, particularly from Ba, to assure City of a return to Wembley next month.
And substitute Fernando Torres was furious when referee Chris Foy refused his claims for a penalty in the closing moments when City captain Vincent Kompany pulled his shirt as he raced into the area.
Roberto Mancini's side may be on the brink of losing their Premier League title to Manchester United - but the prospect of silverware for a third successive season keeps their campaign very much alive and they delivered a real show of power for the first hour.
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez will now turn his attention back to the main business of finishing in the top four to ensure Champions League football next season, as well as attempting to win the Europa League.
This was a clash of two of the Premier League's heavyweights and they traded blows to such an extent that many of the players had run themselves to a standstill by the final whistle.
As expected Benitez left the experienced duo of John Terry and Frank Lampard on the bench following their Europa League endeavours against Rubin Kazan in Moscow on Thursday.
And Chelsea's punishing programme appeared to make an impact with a slow start that allowed Manchester City to build instant momentum.
Chelsea keeper Petr Cech had to show quick reflexes to turn away Aguero's effort after he touched on Yaya Toure's shot and was also in action to turn away Carlos Tevez's angled effort at his near post.
Manchester City's route to the FA Cup final
Third round: h v Watford 3-0
Fourth round: a v Stoke 1-0
Fifth round: h v Leeds 4-0
Sixth round: h v Barnsley 6-0
Semi-final: v Chelsea 2-1 (at Wembley)
It was all hands to the pump for Chelsea as City pressed, with both Branislav Ivanovic and Ryan Bertrand pressed into action to make crucial blocks.
City manager Mancini maintained his FA Cup policy of preferring Pantilimon to England keeper Hart - and he was grateful to captain Kompany for a headed clearance off the line as Eden Hazard's shot broke the shackles on Chelsea.
The goal City merited duly arrived 10 minutes before half-time. Chelsea had not been able to cope with Yaya Toure's forceful surges from midfield. He set up another opportunity for Aguero and when his effort bounced invitingly off Cesar Azpilicueta for Nasri, he made no mistake.
City should have doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time when they broke with five against three in their favour. James Milner's cross was poor but Cech's punch still found Kompany, who should have done better than shoot off target.
It was not to prove an expensive miss as City did get their second two minutes after half-time. A quick free-kick ended with Gareth Barry crossing for Aguero, who showed the superb natural movement and instincts that come naturally to world-class strikers, to rise and head in off the post past the motionless Cech.
As the minutes ticked away Benitez introduced Torres. A goal came within seconds of his arrival but it came from Ba, with the swivelling acrobatic finish that is becoming his trademark as he escaped from Kompany to hook his finish beyond Pantilimon.
The keeper was then forced to dive at Juan Mata's feet amid panic in the City penalty area before reacting well to turn away Ba's shot as Chelsea were suddenly, improbably, resurgent.
In a chaotic final phase, Aguero appeared to trample on David Luiz after bringing him down, which brought some instant retribution from the fired-up Torres.
And Torres was involved in the final contentious moment when his shirt was pulled by Kompany - but referee Foy was unmoved and City survived.
- 01 Cech
- 02 Ivanovic
- 04 Luiz
- 28 Azpilicueta
- 34 Bertrand
- 07 Ramires Booked
- 10 Mata
- 11 Oscar
- 12 Mikel (Torres - 66' )
- 17 Hazard
- 29 Ba
- 22 Turnbull
- 26 Terry
- 08 Lampard
- 13 Moses
- 30 Benayoun
- 57 Ake
- 09 Torres
- 30 Pantilimon
- 04 Kompany Booked
- 05 Zabaleta
- 22 Clichy
- 33 Nastasic
- 07 Milner
- 08 Nasri (Lescott - 86' )
- 18 Barry Booked
- 42 Y Toure Booked
- 16 Aguero
- 32 Tevez (Garcia - 72' )
- 01 Hart
- 06 Lescott
- 13 Kolarov
- 28 K Toure
- 11 Sinclair
- 14 Garcia
- 10 Dzeko
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.90:00 +2:48
Eden Hazard takes a shot from a long way out which goes wide of the right-hand post.90:00 +1:25
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Branislav Ivanovic by Sergio Aguero. Branislav Ivanovic takes the free kick.88:04
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Eden Hazard, Pablo Zabaleta makes a clearance.85:48 Substitution
Substitution Samir Nasri leaves the field to be replaced by Joleon Lescott.84:12
Fernando Torres concedes a free kick for a foul on Sergio Aguero. Pablo Zabaleta takes the free kick.80:31
Free kick awarded for a foul by Sergio Aguero on David Luiz. Juan Mata restarts play with the free kick.79:44
Shot by Yaya Toure from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.77:28
Direct effort from the free kick comes in from David Luiz.77:28 Booking
Booking The referee cautions Vincent Kompany for unsporting behaviour.77:19
Vincent Kompany gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Eden Hazard.75:33
Fernando Torres takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Blocked by Vincent Kompany.71:44 Substitution
Substitution Carlos Tevez leaves the field to be replaced by Francisco Javi Garcia.70:03
Demba Ba takes a shot. Save by Costel Pantilimon.67:25
Free kick awarded for a foul by David Luiz on Carlos Tevez. Free kick taken by Gareth Barry.65:51
The assist for the goal came from David Luiz.65:51 Goal scored
Goal! - Demba Ba - Chelsea 1 - 2 Man City Demba Ba grabs a goal from inside the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Chelsea 1-2 Man City.65:26 Substitution
Substitution Fernando Torres joins the action as a substitute, replacing Mikel.63:08
Eden Hazard produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the net.60:14
Vincent Kompany takes a long range shot clearing the bar.
Emboaba Oscar takes a short corner. Unfair challenge on David Luiz by Pablo Zabaleta results in a free kick. Juan Mata crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, save made by Costel Pantilimon.57:09
The official flags Nascimento Ramires offside. Costel Pantilimon takes the free kick.48:40
Long range shot by Nascimento Ramires goes wide right of the net.46:43
The assist for the goal came from Gareth Barry.46:43 Goal scored
Goal! - Sergio Aguero - Chelsea 0 - 2 Man City Sergio Aguero grabs a headed goal from inside the box. Chelsea 0-2 Man City.45:51
Yaya Toure takes the free kick.45:51 Booking
Booking Nascimento Ramires is booked.45:40
James Milner fouled by Nascimento Ramires, the ref awards a free kick.45:01
The second half kicks off.45:00 +1:46 Half time
Half Time It is the end of the first-half.45:00 +1:22
Shot from inside the six-yard box by Vincent Kompany goes wide right of the target.44:54
Free kick taken by Mikel. Free kick awarded for a foul by Gael Clichy on Eden Hazard. Juan Mata crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Vincent Kompany manages to make a clearance.44:54 Booking
Booking The referee books Yaya Toure for unsporting behaviour.44:46
Yaya Toure concedes a free kick for a foul on Mikel.43:55
Cesar Azpilicueta concedes a free kick for a foul on Carlos Tevez. Samir Nasri takes the free kick.40:28
Emboaba Oscar produces a cross.39:01
James Milner has a drilled shot. Save by Petr Cech.37:16
Effort from the edge of the area by Juan Mata goes wide of the right-hand post.34:23
The assist for the goal came from Sergio Aguero.34:23 Goal scored
Goal! - Samir Nasri - Chelsea 0 - 1 Man City Samir Nasri grabs a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Chelsea 0-1 Man City.25:26
Free kick taken by Mikel.25:26 Booking
Booking The referee shows Gareth Barry a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.24:39
Foul by Yaya Toure on Juan Mata, free kick awarded.22:20
Vincent Kompany gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Demba Ba. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Juan Mata from right wing, Pablo Zabaleta makes a clearance. Eden Hazard takes a shot. Vincent Kompany gets a block in.21:33
Effort on goal by Carlos Tevez from 18 yards. Ryan Bertrand gets a block in.19:42
Sergio Aguero takes a shot. Branislav Ivanovic gets a block in.16:35
Pablo Zabaleta concedes a free kick for a foul on Emboaba Oscar. Free kick taken by David Luiz.12:41
David Luiz gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sergio Aguero. Yaya Toure restarts play with the free kick.9:40
Corner taken by James Milner played to the near post, Demba Ba manages to make a clearance.8:36
The official flags Demba Ba offside. Pablo Zabaleta takes the free kick.7:10
Free kick awarded for a foul by Sergio Aguero on Emboaba Oscar. Free kick taken by Juan Mata.5:20
Mikel challenges Gareth Barry unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Gareth Barry. Corner taken right-footed by Samir Nasri from the left by-line, clearance by Ryan Bertrand. Yaya Toure takes a shot. Blocked by Sergio Aguero. Sergio Aguero takes a shot. Save by Petr Cech. Corner taken by Samir Nasri, clearance made by David Luiz.3:44
Sergio Aguero produces a left-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.0:37
Free kick awarded for a foul by Mikel on Carlos Tevez. Gareth Barry restarts play with the free kick.0:00
The referee gets the match started.
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