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Chelsea storms into FA Cup semifinals

CHELSEA became the first team into the FA Cup semifinals when it comfortably beat Championship (second division) Coventry City 2-0 away yesterday.

Guus Hiddink's team shook off the negative publicity that followed Ashley Cole's arrest and drunken behavior in a nightclub on Thursday and outplayed the second-tier Sky Blues with a goal in each half at the Ricoh Arena. Hiddink criticized the leftback for his behavior but still started the England star in the cup game.

Chelsea went ahead after 15 minutes when Didier Drogba took advantage of some hesitant defending before rounding home goalkeeper Kieran Westwood and scoring from a tight angle.

The English Premier League side, knocked out in the quarterfinals by Championship side Barnsley last season, never looked in danger of suffering a repeat and made sure after 72 minutes when center back Alex finished off a sharp counter-attack with a rare goal.

Coventry, seeking to reach the semifinals for the first time since it won the Cup for the only time in 1987, rarely threatened as Chelsea extended its 100 percent run under Hiddink.

Fulham was at home to Manchester United later in the day's other quarterfinal.

Today, Everton hosts Middlesbrough for a place in the semifinal while Arsenal welcomes second-tier Burnley in a fifth-round game.

The only Premier League game of the weekend between Sunderland and Tottenham was kicking off later yesterday.

In Scotland, a week after being thrashed 0-7 by Celtic in the Scottish Premier League, St. Mirren stunned the Glasgow side 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the Scottish Cup yesterday.

St. Mirren, third-last in the league and fighting against relegation, won it with a second-half Billy Mehmet penalty after Celtic captain Stephen McManus had brought down Craig Dargo.

Celtic, Cup winner a record 34 times, piled on the pressure in the latter stages but could not find a way through as St. Mirren secured its first win against the Bhoys in 27 attempts spanning nine years.

In Germany, Jermaine Jones scored in the first half for Schalke to beat Cologne 1-0 at home on Friday and relieve a bit of the pressure in the Bundesliga on Friday.

Jones struck the only goal in the 28th minute as Schalke jumped to sixth place in the standings with 37 points from 23 rounds.

After a second straight win and third in five matches, Schalke was just two points behind Bayern Munich and vfL Wolfsburg, which were playing yesterday.

Cologne is 10th with 29 points.

"We need to win some games. We just need to stay together and show everyone that we are a group," Jones said.

"We can't talk about a streak yet. Today, this is three points. If we win our next game, then we can start talking about a streak."

Schalke manager Andreas Mueller added: "This was a very important win for the team. It was the first step in the right direction."


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