The quarter-final replay didn't match the excitement of any of these club's previous three meetings this season, although the second half was a considerable improvement on the first period - featuring not only Ba's brilliant and decisive volley, but also a world-class save from Petr Cech to deny Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez a headed equaliser.
Sir Alex Ferguson made seven changes to the line-up which kicked off 48 hours previously at Sunderland, with only Chris Smalling, Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia and goalkeeper David De Gea asked to start a second match in quick succession. The absence of Wayne Rooney from both Easter fixtures grabbed the most attention, with the club confirming he'd suffered a groin injury while on England duty - a blow which he's likely to recover from in time for the league derby against Manchester City next Monday night.
Rafael Benitez brought back some of his big guns after resting them against Southampton on Saturday backfired with a defeat. Most notably, he started with Oscar and the recalled Juan Mata and Eden Hazard as a creative trio behind lone striker Demba Ba, and restored Ramires alongside John Obi Mikel as the anchoring pair. Sir Alex Ferguson's tactic to counter this unit was to beef up his central midfield with Phil Jones, while Valencia operated at right-back.
It summed up the replay’s disappointing start that a hamstring injury suffered by Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole was the most noteworthy incident of the first 20 minutes. The seven-times FA Cup winner pulled up in a