Manchester City are headed to the FA Cup final after they held off a late surge from Chelsea. The Citizens were the better side in the first half and went up 2-0 early in the second half, but attempted to sit on their lead after that. Chelsea hauled one goal back, but City was able to withstand a late barrage from Rafa Benitez's side to win 2-1 and move on to meet Wigan in May.
It took 20 minutes for Chelsea to come into the game at all, as City completely dominated the opening period. Petr Cech was forced into action very early and made a brilliant save in the 6th minute on a header by Sergio Aguero. The Argentinian forward had another solid chance in the 19th minute, but Branislav Ivanovic came up with an excellent block.
Eden Hazard had Chelsea's first chance of the game in the 23rd minute, following a free kick, when his volley was cleared off the line by Vincent Kompany. Chelsea played much better from that point until the end of the match, but went down 12 minutes later in somewhat unlucky fashion.
City's first goal was scored by Samir Nasri, though the chance would have been wasted if it wasn't for a very fortunate bounce. Yaya Toure started the move with a great run forward and a ball into the center of the pitch for Aguero, who touched it to Nasri. Instead of shooting on goal, Nasri tried to play the ball out wide. Fortunately for him, it deflected back into his path and he made a better decision with his second opportunity, finishing past Cech.
The final minutes of the half saw City create two more great chances, though they failed to capitalize on both of them. Cech slapped a bouncing ball away from Aguero in the 39th minute, though it only went as far as Milner. He had the goal at his mercy, but instead struck the ball into Aguero, who was standing in an offside position. Milner wasted an even better chance -- a four-on-one counter -- in first half stoppage time. With plenty of teammates to pick out, he instead crossed the ball right at Cech. The Chelsea keeper didn't make a great punch and the ball fell to Kompany, but his shot went wide.
Less than two minutes into the second half, City finally capitalized on another chance and doubled their lead. Gareth Barry set up the chance, lobbing a diagonal ball into the box from the right flank. Aguero made a great run to split Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta, getting on the end of the ball and lobbing a header over a cement-shoed Cech.
Chelsea went to a more attacking lineup just after the hour mark, introducing Fernando Torres, and they pulled a goal back very shortly after he came on. Demba Ba was the scorer, finishing off a long ball from David Luiz with an absolutely sensational strike. After the ball bounced in the penalty area, he made a sensational turn and hit an unstoppable scissored half-volley to the far post, giving Chelsea a shot at a comeback.
Despite a number of excellent chances, Chelsea never found their equalizer. Juan Mata had a penalty shout in the 69th minute after the ball fell to him at the end of a counter, but Costel Pantilimon got all of the ball and none of the Spaniard when he went down to claim. Just one minute later, Pantilimon was called into action again after Hazard beat Gael Clichy at the endline and crossed for Ba, who directed his shot right at the City keeper.
In the 81st minute, Chris Foy failed to spot a bit of foul play by Aguero on Luiz. While the two were fighting for the ball, Aguero committed a rather harmless foul while trying to win the ball, then inexplicably jumped up and lunged into Luiz with both feet. Neither Foy or his assistants spotted Aguero's infraction, and it went unpunished.
Torres had a penalty shout in the final minute of regular time for what looked like a shirt tug by Kompany, but Foy waved play on. In the final minute of stoppage time, Hazard hit a screamer over the bar from distance, wasting Chelsea's last chance to snag an equalizer as City hung on for a berth in the FA Cup final.