John Terry yesterday hit back at Stoke City supporters for taunting him over losing the England captaincy by rolling up his sleeve and pointing to his captain's armband after he scored Chelsea's second goal in their 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final victory.
The former England captain was subject to sustained abuse from the visiting fans yesterday over his sacking and his alleged affair with Wayne Bridge's ex-fiancee Vanessa Perroncel. When he headed in his side's second goal he ran towards the Stoke supporters pointing at his armband – the first time he has reacted publicly to the fallout from the Bridge saga.
The goals from Terry and Frank Lampard earned Chelsea an FA Cup semi-final tie with Aston Villa who came from two down to beat Reading 4-2 at the Madjeski Stadium, thanks largely to a hat-trick from John Carew (right). The winners of the replay between Tottenham and Fulham will play Portsmouth in the other Wembley semi-final.
After the game, the Chelsea assistant first team coach Ray Wilkins said that the abuse of Terry had to stop: "I would like to think [the abuse will stop]. It's served its course but it's happening and John's just getting on with the situation. I'm not too happy about it [the abuse], but there's nothing I can do about it. He's dealing with the situation in the only way he can: committing himself to the cause. That was another superb performance from him.
"He was taking a bit too much stick from the Stoke fans and wanted to remonstrate with them. He's an exceptional captain and we're delighted to have him on board. He leads these players on the pitch in fantastic fashion. He scored a great goal."
Terry was grateful for the support of the Chelsea fans for whom he stayed on the pitch to applaud after the game. Terry said: "The armband means a lot. Chelsea have been very supportive, the players as well. But the main thing was to come back from a disappointing result [against Manchester City] last week. We had a couple of days to work on the set-plays but they [Stoke] can play as well. It was a dodgy pitch but we played well to come back from a really bad result and performance last week. It's been a good week, good to get away with England, play well, and then come back here and prepare for this game."
The Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, who lost Glenn Whelan to injury, said Stoke's fans had nothing to apologise for in their treatment of Terry. "Our fans are brilliant, different class," Pulis said. "John will have to accept he'll take stick. He took stick from England supporters the other night. If John does well in the World Cup and wins it, he'll come back a hero. Ask John if it fires him up more."
Having only picked Carew because Gabriel Agbonlahor was taken ill yesterday morning, the Villa manager, Martin O'Neill, called upon the Norwegian striker to perform as he did against Reading more often. Shane Long scored twice in the first half for Reading before Ashley Young and then Carew won the tie for Villa.
"John at his hungriest can perform like that," O'Neill said. "He got the equaliser for us and his game lifted two or three-fold. Goals give him confidence and the next thing you know he is running the game. He can do that and I want him to perform like that more often. I would be delighted if he could score a hat-trick every week but first he needs to find a level of performance which is up there with the best strikers."
FA Cup semi-final draw
Aston Villa v Chelsea
Fulham/Tottenham v Portsmouth
Ties to be played at Wembley, 10/11 April