5 observations from FA Women's Cup fifth round
The FA Women's Cup fifth round ties lived up to its billing. With a glut of goals, excitement and drama. Top dogs Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Sunderland edged closer to Wembley. So did Charlton and Durham, both from the lower league.
With quarter-finals pairing already confirmed, here are five things we observed from Sunday's matches.
1 - Again, Birmingham bow to City
The fifth round presented Birmingham City the perfect platform to avenge last season's final defeat to City. Heather Cowan's ladies crashed 4-1 to the Citizens at Wembley. Desperate to make amends, they also aimed for a second cup honour.
But yet again, they were unable to produce the goods against the Women Super League (WSL) leaders, even with extra support from home fans in Solihull. City's unbeaten run was untainted, though they dug deep this time, winning 3-1 after extra time. They face Sunderland in the next round.
2 - No happy ending for minnows
The FA Cup is all about upsets. Premier League trio Leicester City, Lewes and Chichester City were the surprise teams this term. They were seemingly punching above their weights, dislodging sides way higher in status and pedigree.
Sadly, that improbable run came to an end on Sunday. Leicester was sent parking by Durham, losing a seven-goal thriller 5-2. Lewes and Chichester, meanwhile, crashed to Merseyside clubs. Everton demolished the former 6-0 at Dripping Pan. Chichester, on the other hand, received half that whip from Liverpool. Durham and Everton have been paired against each other, while Liverpool host Chelsea.
3 - Top dogs bark
Apart from City, all other WSL1 sides had no problem advancing to the last eight. The reigning champions were made to sweat by Birmingham. In contrast, Chelsea’s passage was rather easy, with a 6-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers Belles at Kingsmeadow. The goals were shared between Ji So-Yun, Fran Kirby, Drew Spence and Erin Cuthbert.
Similarly, the Toffees notched six, with Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah hitting a hat-trick. Elsewhere, Arsenal progressed against Millwall, with Beth Mead scoring the only goal of the game. While Sunderland dumped Aston Villa, claiming a 3-2 victory.
4 - Charlton dare to dream
Of eight sides left in the competition, only Charlton Athletic is outside the Super League division. Six from the WSL1, while Durham represents a division below. The Addicks were simply sensational, thrashing Cardiff City 3-1 on the road.
As three-time finalists, champions in 2004, Charlton will be aiming to rewrite history. Before that, though, they must negotiations their way pass record winners Arsenal.
5 - Claire Emslie in form of life
Just one year ago, Claire Emslie was banging in goals quite ruthlessly for Bristol City. An unbelievable 10 strikes in 12 matches helped the club secure promotion to the elite division.
Now at City, Emslie is having an even bigger impact. With six, the 23-year-old is currently the most creative player in the WLS1. Against Birmingham, she grabbed her seventh strike of the campaign. The Scotland international sealed a hard-fought victory for the league leaders, after Nadia Nadim and Georgia Stanway earlier efforts.