Stoke City turned on the goals as they beat Bolton 5-0 on Sunday to reach their first ever FA Cup final.
Usually renowned for scoring more from long Rory Delap throw-ins and well-worked set-pieces, Stoke struck three impressive goals from open play within the first 30 minutes to all but guarantee progression into the 130th FA Cup final.
They then wrapped up the heady scoreline against their English Premier League rivals with two more goals in the second half, including a superb individual effort from Jon Walters.
Stoke City fans in attendance were already creating a carnival atmosphere before Matthew Etherington stunned Bolton with a long-range effort.
The winger capitalised on some sloppy play that saw Owen Coyle’s team lose possession in its own final third to rifle into the corner of the net from 25 yards.
It took just six minutes for Stoke to double their lead and leave Bolton with a seemingly impossible task.
Central defender Robert Huth let fly with a volley from just outside the penalty area and again Wanderers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen was left rooted to the spot as his net bulged.
Tony Pulis’ side completed their dream start with 15 minutes of the first half still to play.
Jermaine Pennant surged down the right wing before playing the ball into striker Kenwyne Jones, who controlled the pass well and dispatched his effort in front of the Bolton fans to compound their misery.
If Bolton were getting sick of seeing spectacular Stoke goals, the second half offered them little respite.
Former Ipswich attacker Jon Walters had spent 68 minutes working tirelessly for his team-mates, but he got his personal reward when he took the ball from deep, ran confidently at the Bolton defence and curled a powerful strike beyond Jaaskelainen.
His day improved when he claimed a brace after finishing from close range on 81 minutes.
Bolton had channelled their Cup campaign in memory of club legend and two-time FA Cup finalist and 1958 winner Nat Lofthouse, who spent his entire career with the club and passed away in January.
That dream ended within 30 minutes at Wembley on Saturday, but that of Stoke – who will take on Manchester City in the final on June 14 – could just be getting started.
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