FA Cup: Chelsea squeaks by Stoke, Sheffield force Fulham replay
LONDON (AP) - A superb free kick from Oscar gave Chelsea a 1-0 win over Stoke in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday while Fulham needed an equalizer 15 minutes from time to draw 1-1 with third-tier strugglers Sheffield United, who were down to 10 men.
The Brazil midfielder scored in the 27th minute at Stamford Bridge with a curling 20-meter shot that ended in the top corner as Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic dived in vain.
Dangerous on the break and dominant in midfield, Chelsea almost doubled its lead soon after when Oscar hit the post. Andre Schurrle also hit the woodwork after the interval with a shot from a tight angle as Chelsea kept creating the better chances.
Samuel Eto'o missed the target from close range after Ramires failed to convert Eden Hazard's precise cross, but the home side had done just enough by the final whistle.
Hugo Rodallega scored Fulham's equalizer with a low shot that spared his side more misery this season. The London club is just one point above the relegation zone in the Premier League standings.
Chris Porter put the hosts ahead in the 31st minute as he diverted a shot past David Stockdale. But the League One club had Michael Doyle sent off for a kick at Muamer Tankovic early in the second half and could not hold on to its lead.
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough praised his players for their grit after the 1-1 draw but said the referee's decision to send off his player was a bit harsh.
''There was some sort of contact, whether it was enough to warrant a red card I'm not sure,'' he said.
Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen, whose priority is to keep his team in the Premier League next season, made 11 changes for the tie against a side that knocked out Aston Villa in the previous round but is facing a tough relegation battle in its division.
On a waterlogged pitch, Sheffield United looked like it could hold on even after Doyle's sending off, and even threatened to extend its lead when Ryan Flynn led a swift counterattack down the right only to see his low shot stopped by Stockdale.
Both sides were denied penalties as Rodallega and Flynn appeared to be fouled in the area.
Meulensteen admitted his side lacked the quality to prevail but was happy with his youngsters' performance.
''They gave it their all and got their noses in front,'' Meulensteen said. ''If there's any positives to take from the game there's two things. Obviously we're still in it, that's one, but the young boys we brought in did excellent.''
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