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United stays on course in FA Cup

MANCHESTER United will continue its attempt to win the FA Cup for a record-stretching 12th time with a quarterfinal match at Fulham or Swansea.

United, which last won football's oldest cup competition in 2004, reached the quarterfinals on Sunday with a 4-1 win at Derby and could meet another second-tier club if Swansea manages to win its replay against Premier League's Fulham. The pair drew 1-1 in the fifth round on Saturday.

"Either way, we're one step away from the semifinals, so it's a big incentive for the players," United manager Alex Ferguson said.

Chelsea will visit Blackburn or Coventry, who drew 2-2 on Saturday, while Everton's next cup match after beating Aston Villa 3-1 on Sunday will be against West Ham or Middlesbrough.

The permutations for the remaining quarterfinal will become clearer, when Arsenal plays Cardiff in a fourth-round replay late yesterday. The winner of that match will meet Burnley in a postponed fifth-round game, with the victor set to play Sheffield United or Hull in the quarterfinals.

The fifth-round replays are scheduled for the week beginning February 23, with the quarterfinals planned for March 7 and 8.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich chairman Franz Beckenbauer said his club was no longer the favorite for the Bundesliga title after losing two of its last three games.

Hertha Berlin is the new Bundesliga leader after beating Bayern 2-1 on Saturday. Previous leader Hoffenheim also lost at the weekend, 1-4 at home to Bayern Leverkusen.

Hertha has 40 points after 20 games, followed by Hoffenheim and Hamburg with 39, Bayern with 38 and Leverkusen with 36. Hamburg beat Arminia Bielefeld 2-0.

"At the start of the second half of the season I thought that Bayern would walk to the title," Beckenbauer said. "But now, after three games and two defeats, I must say that Bayern is not THE favorite. There is no favorite at all anymore. All of these five-six leading teams can win the title," Beckenbauer wrote in the Bild newspaper.

Bayern was taking too few of its chances, Beckenbauer said, while Ze Roberto and Franck Ribery had a "black day" in Berlin.


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