Stoke City put five goals past Bolton to reach FA Cup Final

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Stoke City stormed into their first ever FA Cup final after a first-half goal spree inspired a 5-0 win against Bolton in Sunday’s semi-final at Wembley.

Tony Pulis’s side will face Manchester City in the final on May 14 after three goals from Matthew Etherington, Robert Huth and Kenwyne Jones in the space of 19 minutes destroyed Bolton before the match had even reached half-time.

Jonathan Walters capped Stoke’s perfect day with two more goals after the interval.

Stoke were appearing in their first semi-final in the competition since 1972, the year they also won their last significant piece of silverware when they beat Chelsea in the League Cup final.

Now they could eclipse even that famous achievement if they beat Roberto Mancini’s expensively-assembled outfit at Wembley next month.

After City’s tense victory over Manchester United on Saturday, this was a far more one-sided affair.

With on-loan Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge cup-tied, Bolton boss Owen Coyle opted for Ivan Klasnic as Kevin Davies’s strike-partner, while Pulis recalled Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen in place of Asmir Begovic.

It was immediately clear that Stoke wouldn’t be unnerved by the occasion.

In the opening seconds Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen was forced to rush off his line to save a Walters shot as the striker burst clear.

Bolton were still struggling to come to terms with the occasion when Stoke took the lead in the 11th minute.

A series of misplaced passes gifted possession to Etherington and the former West Ham winger was given time and space to shoot past Jaaskelainen from 20 yards.

It got even better for Stoke six minutes later when German defender Huth latched onto Gary Cahill’s poor headed clearance and drove in a shot that Jaaskelainen failed to keep out despite getting both hands on the ball.

Stoke had been beaten in successive FA Cup semi-finals in 1971 and 1972, but any fears of another letdown were completely banished when Jones punished more poor Bolton defending in the 30th minute.

Jermaine Pennant robbed Martin Petrov in midfield and ran at the Bolton defence before sliding the ball through Cahill’s legs for Trinidad striker Jones to slot home with ease.

Bolton were last in the FA Cup final back in 1958 when they lifted the trophy thanks to two goals from Nat Lofthouse against Manchester United.

Lofthouse remains the greatest player in Bolton’s history and his death in January aged 85 prompted many glowing tributes to the legendary forward.

But there was to be no fairy-tale return to Wembley. Coyle hauled off Klasnic and Petrov and sent on Matthew Taylor and Mark Davies at half-time.

But Stoke picked up where they had left off and some shambolic Bolton defending almost gifted Jones his second goal only for Paul Robinson to block the striker’s shot.

Stoke went close again when a Bolton clearance was returned to Walters, who was thwarted by Jaaskelainen.

But Walters scored the goal of the game in the 68th minute as he burst forward from the halfway line and curled in a superb strike from 25 yards.

Stoke kept coming forward and when Jones got free down the right nine minutes from time, he crossed for Andy Wilkinson, whose sliced finish fell perfectly for Walters to clip home.

It was the perfect end to arguably the greatest day in Stoke’s history as they became the first team for 72 years to win a semi-final by a five-goal margin.

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