Tottenham ended an awful week with a much-needed win as Aston Villa went down 2-0 in the Premier League on Sunday.

Spurs' season had gone off the rails over their previous two matches, losing the north London derby to Arsenal and then remarkably exiting the Europa League at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb after claiming a 2-0 first-leg lead.

Their focus now - until the EFL Cup final, at least - is on European qualification through the league, and Jose Mourinho's men did their hopes no harm at Villa Park.

While the visitors were still far from convincing, Carlos Vinicius' first Premier League goal and a Harry Kane penalty took Tottenham sixth, within three points of the top four.

Spurs came under pressure at the back until a defensive mix-up at the other end, exacerbated by a poor clearance from former Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, gifted Mourinho's under-fire side the opener.

Martinez's kick landed at the feet of Lucas Moura, who offloaded to Kane and ran onto a smart return pass in the area before squaring for Carlos Vinicius, who could not miss from in front of goal.

Kane saw a shot deflected wide at the start of the second half and Villa were slow to respond, eventually having their first attempt when Joe Rodon blocked from Trezeguet on 58 minutes.

Substitute Anwar El Ghazi's drive then flew wide, but the home team's improved spell was short-lived as Kane settled the game from 12 yards, converting a slightly fortuitous spot-kick after his mis-control invited a lunge from Matty Cash.

A third Tottenham goal appeared more likely than a Villa fightback and Martinez got down well to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's strike, saving face but no points.


What does it mean? Tottenham's season still alive

It would have been easy for Spurs fans to be defeatist this week, but they remain firmly in the hunt for Champions League qualification. Had they won at Arsenal last week, they would head into the international break in fourth place.

Mourinho will certainly hope to see more cohesive performances in the run-in - they completed only 76.8 per cent of their second-half passes - but the result alone mattered on Sunday.

Faith in forward rewarded

Carlos Vinicius has scored more difficult goals for Tottenham this season, but his first in the league was a precious one.

Spurs supporters might wonder if his second appearance in the top-flight XI should have arrived sooner, having scored nine goals in nine starts from just 12 shots on target in all competitions.

Spurs profit from Cash error

Villa were poor all over the pitch, their attack not attempting a shot until close to the hour mark, but a shaky defence was especially susceptible down Cash's flank.

Lucas stole in ahead of the right-back to meet Martinez's scuffed kick for the breakthrough goal, before Villa's number two gave Kane a clinching penalty. Cash made five tackles but committed three fouls and was perhaps fortunate to only be booked for the last of them.

What's next?

Tottenham will welcome the timely rest before they visit struggling Newcastle United on April 4. Villa host Newcastle's relegation rivals Fulham a day earlier.

Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho continued his hot streak with a brace as Brendan Rodgers' side beat Manchester United 3-1 to book a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Iheanacho pounced on a first-half error from Fred to open the scoring and headed home Marc Albrighton's free-kick to complete a deserved triumph at the King Power Stadium and book a Wembley date with Southampton.

In between his goals, he laid on Youri Tielemans for Leicester's second and the Nigeria international now has 15 goal involvements in his past 15 starts across all competitions – 11 goals and four assists.

This month, Iheanacho has been on fire, with seven goals in four outings – a return of one every 48 minutes that places him among Europe's elite.

Only Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski (eight, 38.75 mins/goal) has outscored the 24-year-old during this period.

Hot on Iheanacho's heels are Erling Haaland, Karim Benzema and his international team-mate, Simy Nwankwo of Crotone, on six.

Paris Saint-Germain favourite Kylian Mbappe has five in five since the calendar turned, one more than Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne, Youssef En-Nesyri and Gerrard Moreno.

"I'm enjoying it - I just need to focus and keep going," Iheanacho told BBC Sport.

"It's not easy to get an opportunity but I think I am taking mine - I just need to keep working hard every day and they opportunities will keep coming."

Iheanacho's rich vein of form is timely for Leicester, given Jamie Vardy is enduring an unusually barren spell in front of goal.

The former England striker has not scored for eight matches, although he weighed in with two assists as Iheanacho scored a hat-trick in last weekend's 5-0 demolition of Sheffield United and Rodgers is delighted with how the pair are working in tandem.

"Kelechi has always contributed. Maybe his confidence was lower [before] but he works so hard every day and always comes in and gives his all," the Foxes boss told BBC Sport.

"You see his confidence now. He's at the top of his game.

"It's a different structure [up front]. Kelechi is probably best with someone up there with him. Those two are working very well."

The former Manchester City youngster added: "The partnership is really helping us in the team I am really happy playing alongside Jamie.

"It's helping me a lot [in terms of] creating space and getting the shot in behind, so I hope we can keep working hard together."

 

By contrast, United's forwards are struggling at present.

Mason Greenwood got their goal, his first in 16 matches. After bursting onto the scene last season, the teenage striker has scored two FA Cup goals to his solitary effort in the Premier League this time around.

Marcus Rashford was an injury absentee at Leicester and has been, by far, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's most impressive attacker this season with 18 goals and 10 assists.

Anthony Martial's brace in the 9-0 shellacking of Southampton remain his only goals since New Year's Day, while Edinson Cavani has not completed 90 minutes since February 14 due to injury.

Stefano Pioli says Milan "scraped the bottom of the barrel" as they came from behind to seal a dramatic 3-2 Serie A win over Fiorentina on Sunday. 

Hakan Calhanoglu struck 18 minutes from full-time to move the Rossoneri to within six points of leaders Inter, who have a game in hand after their clash with Sassuolo this weekend was called off after a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.

The result meant Milan equalled their record of 12 away wins in a single top-flight season and ended a run of three games across all competitions without a win. 

That included a Europa League last-16 defeat to Manchester United, and Pioli acknowledged his side had to dig deep to bounce back from that setback.

"This was the most difficult game because we were coming off the disappointment of the Europa League," he told Sky Sport Italia. 

"We had been playing every three days for many months and knew we had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for the remaining drops of energy to get it done."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had earlier put Milan ahead to become the oldest player to reach 15 goals in a single Serie A season, aged 39 years and 169 days, and the striker insisted afterwards they are still very much in the title race.

Pioli agreed with the veteran Swede and said Milan will do everything they can to reign in neighbours Inter. 

"Ibra is right to talk about the Scudetto because we were up there most of the season," he added.

"We're not that far away now and we have the quality to play every single game for a victory. Whether we achieve it is another matter, but we can certainly try.

"Naturally, we started the season with very different objectives, as we were aiming to be in the top four. 

"Now we are there, we want it to be a positive campaign right to the end. I've always said there will be four very happy teams at the end of the season and three who won't be."

Pioli also highlighted the contribution of Ismael Bennacer after he was introduced for Sandro Tonali shortly before the hour mark. 

The Algeria international completed 30 of his 31 attempted passes and enjoyed a pass completion rate in the opposition half of 95.2 per cent. 

"I would agree that although Tonali and [Soualiho] Meite are doing well, Isma has some specific characteristics that work really well with our system," Pioli said. 

"He'll go on international duty now and hopefully get some minutes in his legs so he'll make a big impact in the final push of the season."

Milan are next in action at home to Sampdoria on April 3.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pinned the blame for Manchester United's limp FA Cup exit on his side's hectic schedule as they suffered a 3-1 quarter-final loss at Leicester City.

United were beaten by a double from in-form Kelechi Iheanacho and one from Youri Tielemans at the King Power Stadium as the Foxes secured just a second victory over the Red Devils in 26 meetings in all competitions.

Mason Greenwood's first-half leveller – his first goal in 16 games – ended up being a mere consolation for the visitors as Brendan Rodgers marked his 100th game in charge by leading Leicester to their first FA Cup semi-final since 1982.

For United, it was a first away defeat in domestic competition since January 19 last year, with manager Solskjaer citing a busy fixture list that has recently included a tough two-legged Europa League tie with Milan.

"We didn't have the spark, but it's understandable," he told BBC Sport. "This team have been fantastic in the last three or four months. We played every three days and have been on a great run. It just caught up with us, all the games and travel.

"Thursday night in Milan was a big night and took a lot of out of us physically. We didn't have the extra zip, authority and confidence.

"We tried to get on the front foot and start well because sometimes you can get that adrenaline boost and confidence if you get a goal and that can carry you over the line.

"We've got too many players that have played too many games and too many that haven't really had much football; Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba and others are trying to get in who haven't had enough football. We didn't have enough against a tough team."

The first goal came about after a woeful mistake from Fred, whose attempted pass back to Dean Henderson gifted former Manchester City striker Iheanacho a simple finish.

But the Norwegian refused to point the finger at any individuals, insisting such mistakes come with the territory of playing out from deep.

"We want to build from the back and want the players to be confident," he said. "Sometimes it doesn't work and that's one time it didn't.

"When we win, we win together, and when we lose, we lose together. We're not pointing fingers and blaming.

"The second one is a good goal by the boy but maybe with a zip of energy we could've got to him and wouldn't have been done as easily in the middle.

"That's been one of our strengths, keeping clean sheets and being dogged, but we didn't have the opportunity."

Solskjaer is now looking ahead to what remains of United's season, which still holds the prospect of continental silverware and a shot at sealing second spot in the Premier League.

"We've got the Europa League and Premier League to concentrate on," he said. "Yes, we would've liked to go to Wembley, but now all the focus is on the games we do have.

"We're in a good position in the league and we want to keep improving; of course, Leicester are just behind us, so it won't be easy, but we want to keep going and get as far as possible in the Europa as well."

Lionel Messi has set a new club record for Barcelona, after making his 768th appearance for the Spanish giants.

Messi matched his former team-mate and fellow Blaugrana legend Xavi when he played against Huesca last Monday, taking him to 767 games for the club he first joined as a 12-year-old.

The 33-year-old and former midfielder Xavi are the only players in the club's history to have surpassed 700 games for the Catalans, with Andres Iniesta next on the all-time appearance list on 674.

Messi already boasts the record for the most trophies won (34) and highest goal tally (658) for Barca, and marked the record-equalling appearance in typical style, netting a sensational opener before laying on an assist and then rounding off the scoring himself in a 4-1 victory.

He also became the first player to score 20 or more goals in 13 successive LaLiga campaigns in the process and, on Sunday, he took the outright record for Barca appearances when he started against Real Sociedad. 

To date, Messi has featured in 511 LaLiga matches, while playing 149 Champions League fixtures, 79 Copa del Rey games, 20 in the Supercopa de Espana, five in the Club World Cup and four in the UEFA Super Cup.

Messi tops LaLiga's goalscoring charts this season with 21 goals, as Barca look to close within four points of leaders Atletico Madrid, who beat Deportivo Alaves 1-0.

The Argentina great has been involved in 21 goals in 22 games against La Real in LaLiga (14 goals and seven assists), scoring and or assisting in 14 of them.

Barca have won their last eight games away from home in LaLiga, keeping six clean sheets. They could level their third-best consecutive winning run on the road, and would only be behind their 12 wins in a row between May 2010 and January 2011 and 10 between August 2012 and January 2013.

Messi has yet to sign a new contract with Barca which means, as it stands, he may be down to his last 11 games in all competitions with the club following Sunday's meeting with La Real.

Ronald Koeman's team have 10 LaLiga fixtures remaining following the international break, while they will also take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final next month.

Luis Suarez scored the 500th goal of his professional career but Atletico Madrid had to rely on a late penalty save by Jan Oblak to beat Deportivo Alaves 1-0 and not have their position at LaLiga's summit weakened further.

Diego Simeone's men had won just two of their previous five league games before Sunday - form that has seen Real Madrid and Barcelona close the gap on them - and they looked destined to drop points yet again when Alaves were awarded a spot-kick in the closing stages.

But Oblak produced a wonderful save to deny Alaves a share of the spoils, sparking relieved celebrations among Atletico's players and coaching staff.

The goalkeeper's crucial stop ultimately meant Suarez's 500th professional goal at club and international level, scored from a fine Kieran Trippier cross in the 54th minute, sealed three points to keep Atletico's title push on track.

 

 

Luis Suarez has reached 500 career goals for club and country after scoring Atletico Madrid's winner against Deportivo Alaves.

The Uruguay forward nodded in Kieran Trippier's right-wing cross with 54 minutes gone at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday to bring up a significant personal milestone. 

Alaves thought they would restore parity late on, but Jan Oblak made a superb save from Joselu's penalty, ensuring Suarez's goal proved enough.

Since starting his professional career with Nacional in his homeland and finding the back of the net on 12 occasions, Suarez has represented a further five clubs across Europe.

He has proved prolific at each one, scoring 15 goals for Groningen, 111 for Ajax, 82 for Liverpool, 198 for Barcelona, and now 19 for Atletico.

With a further 63 goals to his name for the Uruguay national team, the 34-year-old is now on 500 in the professional game.

They have come in just 794 appearances – a rate of a goal every 1.5 games.

Suarez's goals have helped him win league titles in Uruguay, the Netherlands and Spain, as well as the Champions League and Copa America.

He is hoping to add another LaLiga title to his honours list this term, with Atleti leading both Barcelona and Real Madrid going into the final stages of the campaign.

Milan kept alive their faint hopes of Serie A title glory as Hakan Calhanoglu's fine strike sealed a pulsating 3-2 win over Fiorentina on Sunday. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had put them ahead after nine minutes to become the oldest player to reach 15 goals in a single Serie A season, aged 39 years and 169 days, but Erick Pulgar restored parity soon after.

Fiorentina took the lead shortly after the break thanks to a cool finish from Franck Ribery, yet Milan powered back thanks to Brahim Diaz and Calhanoglu's winner 19 minutes from full-time. 

The result means Milan move to within six points of leaders Inter, whose game against Sassuolo this weekend was called off after a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.

Fikayo Tomori cleared Martin Caceres' header off the line after five minutes as the hosts started brightly, but it was Milan who struck first. 

Simon Kjaer's clipped ball over the top found Ibrahimovic and the Sweden international struck past an exposed Bartlomiej Dragowski. 

That lead was cancelled out after 17 minutes, though, when Pulgar whipped a free-kick into Gianluigi Donnarumma's top-right corner from 20 yards. 

Both sides struck the crossbar before half-time, German Pezzella denied after an inventive flick from Valentin Eysseric's corner, while Ibrahimovic clipped against the frame of the goal after being played in by Calhanoglu.

La Viola went ahead six minutes after the restart, Ribery stroking home his second top-flight goal of the season from 15 yards after he had been teed up by Dusan Vlahovic.

The Rossoneri drew level in the 57th minute, however, when Diaz reacted quickest to poke home Kjaer's knockdown from a corner. 

Ibrahimovic struck the post with a cross before Calhanoglu slotted into substitute goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano's bottom-left corner from just inside the penalty area to ensure neighbours Inter cannot relax just yet.

 

 

Leicester City reached the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1982 after a 3-1 win over Manchester United in Sunday's quarter-final clash.

Two goals from Kelechi Iheanacho and one from Youri Tielemans were enough to give the Foxes only a second victory over the Red Devils in 26 meetings in all competitions.

United, who levelled in the first half through Mason Greenwood before Tielemans' fine winner, looked well short of their best for much of a contest for which they made five changes from their Europa League win in Milan three days earlier.

Iheanacho headed in a third 13 minutes from time to make certain of victory as United lost an away match in domestic competition for the first time since January 19 last year.

Fred had twice lost possession in United's half before his dreadful backpass to goalkeeper Dean Henderson gifted Iheanacho an easy finish.

Despite their changes, United played like a team struggling with fatigue in the first half, as Leicester pressed them into errors without managing to take full advantage.

It was therefore something of a surprise when the visitors levelled seven minutes before the break. Pogba's low cross from the left was dummied superbly by Donny van de Beek, giving Greenwood the chance to smash home his first goal in 16 appearances.

Leicester regained their lead in prompt fashion in the second half, though, Tielemans drilling a fine shot beyond the reach of Henderson after drifting easily away from Nemanja Matic and Fred.

Jamie Vardy should have made it 3-1, skipping beyond Harry Maguire only to drag a shot wide of the left-hand post with only Henderson to beat, prompting Solskjaer to make four changes to breathe life into United's display.

It was one of those substitutes, Scott McTominay, who conceded a cheap free-kick near the box and then allowed Iheanacho to drift behind him to nod home Marcus Albrighton's delivery.

 

Mikel Arteta declared himself "really disappointed" despite Arsenal fighting back from three goals down to claim 3-3 draw with West Ham United on Sunday.

The Gunners paid for a poor start at the London Stadium as they fell behind to early goals from Jesse Lingard, Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek.

However, they reduced the deficit when Soucek was forced to put through his own net before the break, and it was game on when Craig Dawson did the same following the restart.

Alexandre Lacazette subsequently completed the turnaround with a header 10 minutes from time to earn the visitors a share of the spoils.

But, speaking after the game, manager Arteta could not hide his disappointment over a sloppy start that had given his side a mountain to climb.

He told Sky Sports: "I'm really disappointed because I cannot accept my team to play the way we did for certain periods in the first half because what I expect is the team to play the level we showed afterwards. 

"We played incredibly well, we should have scored six or seven goals, but we had two faces and the first face is about giving goals to the opponent and not doing what we have to do and that is not good enough.

"The first goal, it can happen. It's a really good combination, they do that, they play that channel well and have players in the box and scored a brilliant goal, it's fine. 

"The way we concede the second one is unacceptable, the third goal is unacceptable, and we still gave them one more – a throw-in and they hit the post.

"For the rest, [I liked] the attitude, the desire that we showed and the togetherness that we showed, because at 3-0 it's really difficult to do what we've done. 

"I have no doubts because we talked about it and I can see every day the energy and the cohesion the players have. We came really close to winning, I thought we deserved to win in the end, but the first part really worries me."

Arteta's opposite number David Moyes struck a more positive note, despite the fact his team threw away a sizeable lead.

"It was a really good game, a tough game, lots of goals. We played very well, especially in the opening 30 minutes, we were excellent," Moyes said.

"Unfortunately, we gave them a goal just before half-time from a deflection which I think the shot was going wide and it gave Arsenal a bit of a foot up. That made it more difficult. 

"We played very well for long periods; Arsenal played very well, but Arsenal are in good form at the minute and showing good things. 

"It wasn't a great result for us after going 3-0 up but it was still a good result. We've still kept ourselves moving along, it was a tough game for us and we showed that we're up there competing with the best teams."

The Hammers find themselves in the midst of a perhaps unexpected push for Champions League football this season, but missed a chance to go level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea.

Still, Moyes remained sanguine about his team's position given the manner in which they have exceeded all expectations thus far.

He added: "It's been a long time since we've finished above Arsenal in the league at West Ham, so we've done our best to make sure they can't catch us. 

"We're trying to stay in the top half of the league, I think at the start of the season if we'd said that we'd have said it's [going] good. But now we want more, now I'm greedy. 

"You should see the dressing room, they're devastated because they haven't taken all three points. It's a good sign for a manager, though."

Andrea Pirlo said Juventus had the wrong attitude and must show more respect to the shirt after a 1-0 home defeat to Benevento left their Serie A title hopes on the rocks.

The rookie head coach saw his team waste a chance to reduce Inter's advantage over them to seven points, with Adolfo Gaich preying on a calamitous pass from midfielder Arthur in the 69th minute.

Questions over Pirlo's leadership have already been asked and will persist, as the prospect of a 10th successive Scudetto disappears almost over the horizon.

It would take an Inter implosion and for Juventus to suddenly become infallible for Juventus to catch the Nerazzurri. Neither prospect looks likely.

"We needed to turn in a better display but we performed poorly, in every aspect of our game," Pirlo said. "Everything was off today, in our attitude and in technical situations.

"We knew this would be tough, because Benevento are an organised team, who defend effectively with two compact lines. What we needed was to stay calm and make better use of the flanks, but we made a lot of mistakes.

"When the result is hanging in the balance, panic can start to set in and that wasn't the attitude required. We also needed a little extra desire to get the result, because there was a real opportunity for us to close to gap in the league.

"We must continue to believe in the Scudetto, to follow our path and our work and always be there."

Juventus had 73.4 per cent of possession and led the shot count 21-7, with Cristiano Ronaldo having nine attempts as well as a goal disallowed for offside, while a penalty decision was also overturned in the first half.

Benevento's Alessandro Tuia made a game-high 10 clearances as the visitors scrambled to stay level initially and then hold on to their lead.

The fact Benevento, coached by former Juventus striker Filippo Inzaghi, were able to get ahead and stay ahead rankled with Pirlo, with last season's Serie B champions scoring from their one shot on target in the game.

"We have to change our mindset: we wear a jersey of huge importance, which must always be honoured," Pirlo added, quoted on the Juventus website. "Our attitude has to be different in games like this."

After the international break, Juventus will return to Serie A action with a derby against Torino, which should focus minds.

Assessing Arthur's blunder, Pirlo said: "He made a mistake that was not like him. In my opinion, he didn't see the opponent in that area of the field.

"It was a soft mistake, like many others we made. It means that we weren't concentrated and that we didn't give everything to achieve victory."

Manchester City will take on Chelsea in the semi-finals of the FA Cup next month.

Late goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne saw City past a dogged Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday, keeping the Premier League leaders and EFL Cup finalists in contention across four major competitions.

That result meant City have won 25 of their past 26 games in all competitions, with Chelsea similarly enjoying a rich vein of form.

The Blues are undefeated in 14 games under head coach Thomas Tuchel, with Hakim Ziyech – their midweek Champions League hero against Atletico Madrid – sealing a 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.

The other semi-final will see the winner of the match between Leicester City and Manchester United take on Southampton

Ralph Hasenhuttl's men swept aside Championship outfit Bournemouth 3-0 on Saturday, with Nathan Redmond netting a second-half brace.

A tougher test likely awaits against United or Leicester, each of whom boast 9-0 wins against Saints over the past two seasons.

The ties will be played at Wembley on the weekend of April 17-18.

FA Cup semi-final draw in full:

Leicester City or Manchester United v Southampton
Chelsea v Manchester City

Andrea Pirlo and Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Juventus despite hopes of a 10th successive Scudetto lying in tatters, according to club director Fabio Paratici.

A shock 1-0 home defeat to lowly Benevento on Sunday was a result to leave even the most optimistic Juventus supporter fearing the long reign as league champions is coming to an end.

Trailing Inter by 10 points, the Benevento game was a chance to chip away at that lead, but Arthur's dire pass across the Juventus penalty area midway through the second half was seized upon by Adolfo Gaich for the game's only goal.

Ronaldo had nine attempts at goal, hitting the target four times, but Juventus could not find a way past goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipo.

Pirlo, appointed to coach Juventus this season in his first senior post, has seen his side knocked out of the Champions League by Porto and almost certainly hustled out of the Serie A title race inside the past fortnight.

But Paratici, managing director of the club's football department, insists Pirlo remains the man Juventus want as their leader.

He told Sky Sport Italia: "This is not a game that changes our ideas, let's go our own way. This route continues. We are very convinced of what we are doing, let's stay on this path.

"We weren't dissatisfied with the previous coaches. There were different reasons why we changed, that's it. It is not a win or a loss that determines a club's course.

"When you have a clear idea of ​​where you want to go, you have to follow the route. We will see at the end if it is correct."

Asked about Ronaldo, who has been linked with his former clubs Real Madrid and Manchester United, Paratici said: "We have Ronaldo, he is the best in the world and we are holding on to him."

Ronaldo was presented with a shirt marked 'G.O.A.T. 770' by chairman Andrea Agnelli before the game, denoting Juventus' belief they have the 'greatest of all time' at the club, and reflecting his achievement in reaching 770 career goals with his hat-trick against Cagliari last Sunday.

Ronaldo said Pele acknowledged that took him past the Brazil great's career haul in competitive matches for a new world record.

Paratici dismissed talk of this being a season of 'transition', saying: "For Juventus this word does not exist."

Thomas Tuchel confirmed Tammy Abraham sustained a recurrence of an injury which has kept him out of action in recent weeks, urging the Chelsea forward to be cautious with his recovery.

Abraham has not featured for Chelsea since February 22, due to a combination of injury and his form in training.

Coming into the FA Cup quarter-finals, no player had scored more goals in the competition this season than Abraham, who had netted four times across the third, fourth and fifth rounds.

However, the 23-year-old was again absent from the squad at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and Tuchel – who on Friday instructed Abraham to be patient as he waited for an opportunity – revealed Chelsea's number nine had suffered an injury.

"Yes, he quit training yesterday after a five-minute warm-up so there was more or less no chance he could join the squad," Tuchel told a news conference after Chelsea's 2-0 win over the Blades.

"It was the same injury, more or less, but he had a re-injury in more or less the same spot where the first injury was so he is in pain and he had to quit the session after five minutes with no chance he could join us today.

"The most important thing for Tammy is be fit. The second is then to take things step by step, to train and fight for his way back.

"His way back is maybe to be a substitute and to be hungry and full of quality in training. These are the next steps.

"Now is not the time to worry about the first eleven because he is out now for many games, unfortunately too many games.

"It's absolutely not his fault and he is hungry to come back. He tries all the time but this is the risk with pushing the players to be back as soon as possible.

"It was an accident in training. So nobody's fault. So now is a kind of restart and we hope he can use the next two weeks to get fit again."

Despite his recent struggles, Abraham is Chelsea's leading scorer this season with 12 goals in 30 matches across all competitions.

He has taken 10 of 16 'big chances' – opportunities from which Opta would expect a player to score – far better than Timo Werner's rate of eight from 26.

Of Chelsea's three central strikers, Olivier Giroud (103) boasts a better minutes per goal ratio than Abraham (127), while Werner is down at 284.

Creatively, Werner has been far more profitable, crafting 31 opportunities, in contrast to 13 from Abraham.

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