Ref blunders as Pompey beat Birmingham in FA Cup


Saturday 06 March 2010 19:23

Cash-strapped Portsmouth beat Birmingham 2-0 on Saturday to reach the FA Cup semifinals, and Arsenal beat Burnley 3-1 to boost its chances of winning the Premier League.

Frederic Piquionne scored two goals in four minutes to give Portsmouth victory over Birmingham as the club reached the last four two years after winning football's oldest domestic cup competition.

But the visitors were unhappy that referee Steve Bennett ruled out a goal which TV replays showed crossed the line. By coincidence, it happened on the day that the International Football Association Board ruled out any more experiments with goal-line technology to decide such incidents.

Portsmouth, which is in financial administration and last in the Premier League standings, was 2-0 ahead when Liam Ridgewell's 81st-minute close-range header for Birmingham crossed the line before goalkeeper David James blocked it. But Bennett ruled it was not a goal.

"We should have had a lifeline with a perfectly legitimate goal but unfortunately it wasn't to be," said Birmingham manager Alex McLeish. "It would have given us a lifeline and I wouldn't bet against my team coming back if we got that goal.

"You would expect an official at this level to see that. They do the fitness tests and part of that is the vision side of things. It's a shame the guy missed that, I'm sure he will be hurting about it."

Asked if Birmingham scored a goal, James said: "Not as far as I was aware."

"Maybe we can debate that all the way home," James said. "We won 2-0 as far as the score goes and I think we deserved it."

Before that incident, Piquionne prodded home the loose ball in the 67th minute after Birmingham goalkeeper Joe Hart dived at the feet of Danny Webber but failed to grab the ball.

The French striker added the second in the 70th when he ran at a defender, kept his cool and fired low past Hart from 12 meters.

Saturday's other quarterfinal game between Fulham and Tottenham kicked off later. On Sunday, defending champion Chelsea hosts Stoke and Aston Villa goes to Reading, the League Championship club which knocked out Liverpool in round three.

Arsenal drew level with Chelsea in the Premier League by beating Burnley, although it has played a game more.

Cesc Fabregas fired home Samir Nasri's cross in the 34th minute for his 17th league and cup goal of the season but he went off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury before halftime.

David Nugent equalized from Leon Cort's pass but Theo Walcott regained Arsenal's lead in the 60th minute for his first goal in 18 appearances, and Andrey Arshavin added the third in injury time.

Manchester United had the chance to take advantage of Chelsea's FA Cup involvement by going top with a victory at relegation threatened Wolves later Saturday. United is one point behind Chelsea and Arsenal.

Bolton won 2-1 at West Ham to improve its chances of avoiding relegation and push the home side deeper into trouble.

Kevin Davies headed the first from close range and provided the cross for Jack Wilshere to score his first goal for Bolton since his loan move from Arsenal. Alessandro Diamanti's reply for West Ham came only two minutes from the end. The victory moved Bolton up to 13th and five points above the relegation zone while West Ham is only three points away from danger.

On Sunday, Everton welcome Hull and Liverpool goes to Wigan on Monday.

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