BARCELONA: Manchester United reached the FA Cup fifth round and holders Paris St Germain advanced to the final of the French League Cup on Tuesday but AS Roma’s miserable year continued as they were eliminated from the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.
United avoided any further embarrassment against stubborn fourth-tier side Cambridge United after goals by Juan Mata, Marcos Rojo and James Wilson gave them a comfortable 3-0 home win in their FA Cup fourth-round replay.
Brazilian defender Maxwell’s goal was enough to keep PSG on course for a record-extending fifth League Cup trophy when they won 1-0 at Lille.
There was no such joy for Roma, though, as two second-half goals from German international Mario Gomez gave Fiorentina a 2-0 win to send Rudi Garcia’s side crashing out amid the boos of their own fans.
While Cup action dominated Europe on Tuesday, there was league action in Germany with Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich remaining winless in the second half of the season after holding on with 10 men to earn a 1-1 draw with Schalke 04.
CAMBRIDGE HOPES END
Cambridge, the lowest ranked team to reach the fourth round, failed to match the giant-killing feats of Bradford City and Middlesbrough, who knocked out Chelsea and Manchester City but gave United a scare at Old Trafford when Tom Elliott shot against the post in the first minute.
But first-half goals from Mata and Rojo put Louis van Gaal’s side, who drew 0-0 at Cambridge, in control before Wilson added a third to rubber-stamp a win that sets up a fifth-round trip to third-tier Preston North End, who beat Sheffield United 3-1 in their fourth round replay.
“We have done what we had to,” Van Gaal told the BBC. “For the club, the fans and the coach and my staff, we want to win a title this year. The biggest chance is the FA Cup, but we still have to win four games to do that.”
In the night’s other FA Cup replay, Sunderland came from behind to win 3-1 at second-tier Fulham, setting up a fifth-round trip to third-division Bradford.
Left-back Maxwell scored in the 27th minute against Lille, running onto Edinson Cavani’s cut back and firing into the top left corner as PSG recorded a sixth straight win in all competitions.
The French champions dominated affairs with the bulk of possession and Laurent Blanc’s side will take on either AS Monaco or Bastia in the final at the Stade de France on April 11.
The victory keeps PSG on track for a quartet of trophies with a Champions League last-16 tie against Chelsea on February 17 and a last-16 French Cup fixture against Nantes lying ahead.
“We’re the Cup holders and we had the heart to defend that,” said Blanc. “We had to win here first and that’s done but what pleases me most is not only the victory but also what we offered against a team that really dug in.
“My team played some really good stuff which will serve us in good stead for the future but we still have to progress,” added the former France coach.
On a rain-soaked night at the Stadio Olimpico, Gomez broke the deadlock in the 65th minute, dinking Manuel Pasqual’s cross over Roma goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski from close range.
Pasqual also set up Fiorentina’s second goal with another cross which Gomez controlled before smashing a left-foot shot into the roof of the net.
The Germany forward, finally finding his scoring touch after being plagued by injury and form problems, added to the brace he scored against Atalanta in the previous round as Fiore secured a two-leg semi-final tie against Italian champions Juventus.
“Reaching the semi-final was a very imp ortant goal for all of us,” Gomez said. “We lost here last year against Napoli and, who knows, maybe we’ll be back. It was a very difficult period for me, I was out for a year, but I needed time to return to my best, I needed to play.”
The defeat meant Roma’s poor run goes on as it followed four successive draws which has cost them ground in the Serie A title race with Juve.
BAYERN TAKE POINT
Despite playing over 70 minutes with 10 men following Jerome Boateng’s dismissal, Bayern Munich battled to a draw at home to Schalke to retain their eight-point lead over VfL Wolfsburg, who clinched a late 1-1 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Wolfsburg beat Bayern 4-1 on Friday but needed a late equaliser from Kevin de Bruyne to escape with a point after Stefan Aigner put Frankfurt ahead in the 58th minute.
Bayern had Boateng dismissed with just 17 minutes gone but goalkeeper Manuel Neuer easily saved Eric Choupo-Moting’s resulting penalty. Arjen Robben then put Bayern ahead in the 67th but Benedikt Hoewedes equalised five minutes later.
“I am very satisfied,” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said. “Of course we wanted the three points but our performance was better [than last week].”
Bayern have 46 points ahead of Wolfsburg with 38 while third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach, on 33, closed the gap on the wolves thanks to a 1-0 win over visiting Freiburg with Patrick Herrmann on target. Schalke are fourth on 31 points.