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United, Spurs make FA Cup quarters
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 20 - 02 - 2017

Manchester United turned to Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to come to the holder's rescue and eliminate second-tier Blackburn in the FA Cup Sunday.

The duo came off the bench with around 30 minutes remaining at Ewood Park and combined to complete United's comeback. Ibrahimovic ran onto Pogba's long, high pass to clinch the 2-1 victory and a spot in the quarterfinals.

A day after three Premier League teams endured difficulties against lower-league opposition in the fifth round, Tottenham was taking no risks at Fulham. The north London club started Harry Kane and its top-scorer delivered, netting a hat trick as Fulham was swept aside 3-0.

United 2, Blackburn 1

United, the record 20-time English league champion, trailed for 10 minutes in the first half at the home of the 1995 Premier League champion, which has been out of the top-flight since 2012.

On a rare start for Jose Mourinho's side, Marcus Rashford canceled out Danny Graham's opener. The striker was played through by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and he ghosted past goalkeeper Jason Steele before slotting into an unguarded net in the 27th minute.

It took until 75th minute for United to find a winner. Pogba sent the ball over the top of the Blackburn defense for the 35-year-old Ibrahimovic, who netted his 24th goal of his first season at United.

Tottenham 3, Fulham 0

While the FA Cup is now regularly used by top-flight teams to rest leading players, Kane's appearance at Craven Cottage was a sign of Tottenham's lack of options up front and the desire to avoid a third successive loss.

Defeats in the Premier League and Europa League prompted manager Mauricio Pochettino to gather his players for meetings to dissect the difficulties.

"The reaction was fantastic," Pochettino said. "It was a great opportunity to show we are alive, to change the feeling after two defeats ... and this was a big boost of confidence."

Especially for Kane. Since scoring three times against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League last month, Kane had only scored once in five games before facing an inviting Fulham defense.

Fulham, which was relegated from the Premier League in 2014, was caught out by Tottenham's speedy move down the right flank for the 16th-minute opener. Christian Eriksen met Kieran Trippier's long throw-in and delivered a cross to Kane, who slid in to nudge the ball over the line.

After being wasteful for the rest of the first half, Kane was quick off the mark six minutes after the break. Kane evaded US defender Tim Ream, in front of national team coach Bruce Arena, to meet another cross from Eriksen and put the ball between goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli's legs.
Dele Alli set up Kane's third with a through-ball in the 73rd minute that the England striker fired past Bettinelli. — AP

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