New Telegraph

February 28, 2024

Mykolenko-led Everton avoid FA Cup shock

…as Middlesbrough to host Chelsea in quarter-final

 

Everton avoided one of the all-time FA Cup upsets by seeing off non-league Boreham Wood 2-0 thanks to a Salomon Rondon double to reach the quarterfinals on Thursday.

The Toffees were captained by Ukrainian international Vitalii Mykolenko on the day one of the club’s key backers, Alisher Usmanov, was hit by sanctions from the British government amid the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Usmanov is a long-time business partner of Everton owner, British-Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri.

The Russian billionaire sponsored Everton’s training ground through his firm USM Holdings and had first-option naming rights for the club’s new stadium.

Everton suspended their sponsorship arrangements with USM and other Russian companies Megafon and Yota on Monday with their advertising boards hastily removed ahead of the fifth round tie at Goodison Park.

Both sides entered the field bearing Ukrainian flags to the tune of John Lennon’s anti-war song “Imagine.”

Once the action got underway it was difficult to imagine there are 78 places between the sides in the English football pyramid as fifth-tier Wood held their own.

Everton were restricted to precious few chances before halftime, although there was nearly a fairytale first goal for the club for Mykolenko as his low drive was beaten away by Taye Ashby-Hammond.

Frank Lampard left Richarlison on the bench from the start, but the Brazilian international was needed to enliven Everton after the break.

Rondon should have opened the scoring when he headed over from Jonjoe Kenny’s cross.

The Venezuelan was brought to Goodison Park by unpopular former Everton boss Rafael Benitez as they united at a third different club.

Rondon had scored just one club goal all season before Thursday, but saved Lampard’s men from the embarrassment of extra-time as this time he did convert Kenny’s low cross on 57 minutes.

Richarlison had a second goal ruled out by VAR for offside, but Rondon made the tie safe when he forced a header over the line six minutes from time.

Everton will travel to Crystal Palace in the last eight.

Meanwhile, Championship side Middlesbrough will welcome Chelsea to the Riverside Stadium in the FA Cup quarter-final.

Last season’s runners up are the reward for Boro, who have beaten Manchester United and Tottenham in the previous two rounds.

Crystal Palace will host Everton after the Toffees beat non-league Boreham Wood in the fifth round.

Southampton face Manchester City and Nottingham Forest or Huddersfield will host Liverpool.

Chelsea’s trip to the North East will be a repeat of the 1997 FA Cup final, which the Blues won 2-0 at Wembley.

Championship pair Forest and Huddersfield face each other on Monday in the final tie of the fifth round.

The games will played on the weekend of March 19-20.

FA Cup quarter-final draw:

Crystal Palace v Everton

Middlesbrough v Chelsea

Nottingham Forest or Huddersfield v Liverpool

Southampton v Manchester City

 

*Courtesy: AFP

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