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City comes out on top in semifinal showdown

updated 4:56 PM EDT, Sun April 14, 2013
Samir Nasri gave Manchester City a 35th minute lead in its FA Cup semifnal against Wembley at Chelsea. The Frenchman darted into the penalty area before lashing the ball past goalkeeper Petr Cech. Samir Nasri gave Manchester City a 35th minute lead in its FA Cup semifnal against Wembley at Chelsea. The Frenchman darted into the penalty area before lashing the ball past goalkeeper Petr Cech.
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City slicker
Double trouble
Brilliant Ba
Back with a bang
Delight for Di Canio
Smiles for Sunderland
Tello the tormentor
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Manchester City defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley
  • Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero on target for City, who will face Wigan in final
  • Manchester United moves 15 points clear at top of Premier League
  • Robin van Persie scores for first time in 10 games during 2-0 win

(CNN) -- Manchester City capped off a memorable week by booking its place in the FA Cup final for the second time in three seasons.

City, which defeated fierce rival Manchester United at Old Trafford last Monday, claimed a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Wembley Sunday to set up a final tie with Wigan Athletic.

City last won the country's oldest and most prestigious cup competition back in 2011 when it defeated Stoke 1-0.

On this occasion, Samir Nasri's first half strike and Sergio Aguero's looping header secured victory for Roberto Mancini's men in a thrilling contest against last season's European Champions League winners.

Demba Ba's spectacular 66th minute strike had given Chelsea a sniff of a comeback and manager Rafael Benitez was left seething after claiming his side was denied a clear penalty.

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The Blues looked set to equalize when Fernando Torres raced through only to appear to be wrestled to the ground by City captain Vincent Kompany -- but the officials decided against awarding a spot kick.

"Was it a penalty? Yes clearly. Very clearly," Benitez told ITV.

"The penalty not being given was a key moment in the game as Vincent Kompany could also have been sent off.

"You can see the pictures. We have two situations like that in the second half.

"We played against a very good team, if they had scored another the game would have been over.

"But we keep going and we had chances to be back in the game so these decisions were very important."

Read: Benitez leads Chelsea to third semifinal

Chelsea, which defeated Liverpool in last year's final, was second best for much of the contest and trailed at the break through Nasri's close range finish.

Aguero's effort two minutes after interval increased City's lead before Ba's acrobatic effort ensured a frantic finale.

"It was a difficult game," Mancini told ITV."The players did well to win this game, fighting for every ball until the last second.

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"In the first half we had everything under control. When Demba Ba scored, it caused us a problem for 10 minutes.

"When we won the FA Cup against Stoke, it was a difficult game, and I expect the same against Wigan.

"But now we have to win the final and finish second in the championship that is our target."

Read: Arsenal climbs to third in EPL

Chelsea's hope of winning a trophy now rests on the Europa League where it faces a semifinal against Swiss side Basel.

"I am really disappointed with the result. When we played with Fernando Torres, the team had more energy," Benitez told reporters.

"If you see the performance in the second-half, the players will know they can do well in the rest of the season. You could see we had energy, quality and desire."

While City was celebrating at Wembley, its arch rival Manchester United was also reflecting on success after claiming a 2-0 win at Stoke -- a win which takes it 15 points clear at the summit of the Premier League.

Read: United pens new multi-million dollar Aon deal

Margaret Thatcher's death has been met with an outpouring of tributes from around the world. But when it comes to the world of sport, there has been little love for the Iron Lady. Here she is pictured with the English national soccer team shortly after winning her first election in 1979. Margaret Thatcher's death has been met with an outpouring of tributes from around the world. But when it comes to the world of sport, there has been little love for the Iron Lady. Here she is pictured with the English national soccer team shortly after winning her first election in 1979.
All smiles
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Lionel Messi started the evening on the bench after picking up a hamstring injury during last week's first leg in Paris. The four-time World Player of the Year missed the weekend's win over Mallorca and was deemed fit enough to be named as a substitute. Lionel Messi started the evening on the bench after picking up a hamstring injury during last week's first leg in Paris. The four-time World Player of the Year missed the weekend's win over Mallorca and was deemed fit enough to be named as a substitute.
Watching brief
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Barca sneaks through Barca sneaks through
Dortmund's players celebrate their famous 3-2 victory over Malaga and will now look forward to the semifinals where it could be joined by fellow German club Bayern Munich. Dortmund's players celebrate their famous 3-2 victory over Malaga and will now look forward to the semifinals where it could be joined by fellow German club Bayern Munich.
Drama at the death
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Dramatic night in Dortmund Dramatic night in Dortmund

Robin van Persie's first goal in 10 games and Michael Carrick's opener allowed United to pick up all three points at struggling Stoke.

And manager Alex Ferguson was delighted to see his star striker finally get back amongst the goals -- even if he was almost sent flying by the subsequent celebration.

"He nearly killed me! He forgets I'm 71," Ferguson joked.

"It was a great celebration as it brought the emotion of the players and the fans together. We really did celebrate that."

United now requires just seven points from its final six games to win the title and wrestle it back from neighbor City.

Ferguson told Sky Sports: ""If we were starting the season today, with seven games left, would we fancy ourselves to win the league? That was the point of it.

"Not looking back or looking at the points we got or the goal difference. It's to start the season today.

"The players deserve all the credit for the battling performance they gave.

"The character of the team is showing. They went out on the pitch with that and got the result they deserved."

Read: Di Canio hits back: 'I am not a fascist'

The first edition of Eric Castel was published in 1979 and focused on the Barcelona player meeting a group of young fans known as the "Pablitos". The second edition, entitled "Retur-Match" or "Second-Leg" was released later the same year.
The first edition of Eric Castel was published in 1979 and focused on the Barcelona player meeting a group of young fans known as the "Pablitos". The second edition, entitled "Retur-Match" or "Second-Leg" was released later the same year.
A star is born
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Eric Castel: Barelona and PSG\'s comic book hero Eric Castel: Barelona and PSG's comic book hero
New Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio talks to Alfred N'Diaye before the kickoff against Chelsea. New Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio talks to Alfred N'Diaye before the kickoff against Chelsea.
Losing debut for Di Canio
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Losing debut for Di Canio Losing debut for Di Canio
Gareth Bale was kept quiet for most of the contest by a hardworking and determined Basel side during the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinal tie Thursday. Gareth Bale was kept quiet for most of the contest by a hardworking and determined Basel side during the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinal tie Thursday.
Bale bullied
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Goals galore in Europa League Goals galore in Europa League

In the day's other Premier League game, Sunderland produced a memorable performance to claim a 3-0 win at fierce foe Newcastle.

Manager Paolo Di Canio led the celebrations as goals from Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and David Vaughan propelled Sunderland three points clear of the drop zone.

And the 44-year-old Italian took time to dedicate the victory to his late mother, who passed away exactly one year ago yesterday.

Di Canio asked reporters: "Can I tell you something?

"Sometimes, some special things have to remain inside yourself. It's not good to share with others because it's very deep inside yourself.

"But I believe in this thing. Before the kick off, I saw the face of my Mama smiling. Exactly yesterday, it was one year since she passed away.

"Exactly one year ago, there was the same situation. I was in the dug-out the day after she passed away and we won the game -- I was at Swindon -- and today, it has happened again.

"For this, I have to thank not only my Mama, otherwise my Dad - he is next to her, but today, he is going to be upset.

"But Dad, Mama was special today, so my dedication goes to her today, to my Mam."

Read: 'Tiger' prowls for goals

In Spain, league leader Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win at Real Zaragoza with two goals from Cristian Tello and a strike from Thiago Alcantara doing the damage.

Barca sits 13 points clear of Real Madrid, which also won 3-0 with two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and a strike from Gonzalo Higuain seeing off Atheltic Bilbao.

Meanwhile, Radamel Falcao scored twice as third place Atletico Madrid cruised to a 5-0 win over Granada, while Real Sociedad's Imanol Agirretxe kept his side's push for Champions League football on track.

Agirretxe scored both goals as Sociedad overcame Rayo Vallecano 2-0 to open up a four point gap between itself and fifth place Malaga.

Read: Inter Milan faces new racism charge

In Italy, third-place Milan drew 1-1 with second place Napoli in a result which does neither team any good in their pursuit of league leader Juventus.

Mathieu Flamini gave Milan a 30th minute lead only for Goran Pandev to equalize three minutes later.

Flamini was later sent off with 18 minutes to go but Napoli was unable to force a winner and remains in second, nine points off the top.

Elsewhere, Inter Milan suffered a 2-0 defeat at Cagliari as it slumped to a third loss in four games.

Mauricio Pinilla scored twice to leave Inter's hope of qualifying for next season's Champions League in jeopardy.

Ten-man Roma picked up all three points at Torino courtesy of a 2-1 victory.

Pablo Osvaldo and Erik Lamela got the goals before Federico Balzaretti was sent off after receiving a second yellow card.

Elsewhere, Udinese eased to a 3-0 win at Parma, while Palermo finished 1-1 against Bologna, Chievo finished goalless against Catania and Genoa drew 1-1 with Sampdoria.

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