Chelsea ease into semi-finals

LONDON: FA Cup holders Chelsea strolled into the semi-finals with a 2-0 victory over Stoke on Sunday, while Aston Villa staged a stunning second half fightback to join them in the last four with a 4-2 win against Reading.

At Stamford Bridge, desposed England captain John Terry was back in the spotlight as the Chelsea skipper set up Frank Lampard's opener before scoring the second himself and then celebrating by pointing to the armband on his sleeve. Stoke almost took the lead from one of Rory Delap's troublesome long-throws when Dean Whitehead's shot was cleared off the line by John Obi Mikel.

But Lampard put Chelsea ahead in the 35th minute when his shot from Terry's pass deflected past Thomas Sorensen. Terry gave Chelsea more breathing space in the 68th minute when his header from Lampard's corner deflected in off Andy Wilkinson.

Aston Villa, beaten in the League Cup final by Manchester United last weekend, looked set for an embarrassing exit at the hands of Championship Reading after Shane Long scored twice in the first half at the Madejski Stadium. But three goals in 10 minutes from Ashley Young and John Carew, who ended up with a hat-trick, ensured Villa will return to Wembley in the last four.

Long — who had scored the winner in the third round victory over Liverpool — put Reading ahead in the 27th minute when he headed in Matthew Mills' flick-on. The Royals looked on course for a famous victory when Long struck again with a fine finish from Jimmy Kebe's pass three minutes before half-time.

But Young restored Villa's belief with a close-range strike two minutes into the second half. Villa's equaliser arrived just four minutes later when Carew headed in Stewart Downing's cross. Carew put Villa ahead by cleverly flicking in Stephen Warnock's cross with the outside of his boot in the 57th minute, then scored his third from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

Cash-strapped Portsmouth booked their place in the semi-finals with a 2-0 home win over Birmingham on Saturday, while Tottenham were held to a 0-0 draw at Fulham.