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Lee, Bolton stumble out of FA Cup

Stoke City bag 5-0 win at Wembley Stadium


It was a match he had dreamed of playing. Lee Chung-yong of Bolton Wanderers tried to reach the English FA Cup final, but his dream ended bitterly on Sunday as the team lost to Stoke City 5-0 in the semifinals at Wembley Stadium.

The Korean midfielder revealed he was hugely disappointed to be knocked out of the FA Cup, admitting that his team had played its worst game of the season.

“It was a real good chance, but we blew it,” said Lee after the game.

“I don’t know what was wrong with our team. We were probably unlucky to concede a goal too early.”

Sunday was a big day for both Lee and his team. Lee, who sent Bolton into their first FA Cup semis in 11 years with an injury-time header against Birmingham, had said that playing at the famous Wembley was like a dream.

But his big day began to disintegrate from the start of the game. Stoke’s Matthew Etherington stunned the Bolton players with his thundering opener in the 11th minute. Things quickly got worse for Lee’s side as their poor defense allowed another two goals before the end of the first half. 
Bolton’s Lee Chung-yong in action against Stoke City (AFP-Yonhap News)
Bolton’s Lee Chung-yong in action against Stoke City (AFP-Yonhap News)

Stoke added two goals in the second half to record the biggest winning margin in an FA Cup tie at Wembley, trashing Bolton’s attempt to reach the final for the first time since 1958.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle admitted that his players had let themselves down, saying “I feel sorry for the fans because they deserved better.”

“There were too many players who didn’t give a performance to match their ability,” he added.

Lee was a big part of the blame. Since the Asian Cup in January, Colye has been trying to prevent Lee from burning out, employing him only as a substitute for the league games.

“We have to be careful with Lee because he has played for two years now without any sort of extended break,” Colye said earlier.

On Sunday, however, the manager gave him a starting role at Wembley to guide Bolton’s four-man midfield.

Lee, who is just in his second year in the league, has already built a reputation for being a constant threat on the wings with his great pace and passing. But rather disappointedly, he was out of form on Sunday, failing to connect the ball on numerous occasions.

“I feel bad that we missed such a good opportunity. But I think I’ll learn from this defeat,” Lee said.

Lee knows his team has a big test coming up. Bolton, which now sits eighth in the league, faces second-placed Arsenal on Sunday.

“There are only a few games left to play this season. I’ll try to focus on the remaining games,” he added.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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