Chelsea secured their place in the FA Cup final after turning on a dazzling second-half display at Wembley to knock Southampton out in the semi-final. It tees up a fascinating Blue v Red clash on Royal wedding day, May 19, when Jose Mourinho's Manchester United will be going toe-to-toe with his old team. After a
Chelsea secured their place in the FA Cup final after turning on a dazzling second-half display at Wembley to knock Southampton out in the semi-final.
It tees up a fascinating Blue v Red clash on Royal wedding day, May 19, when Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United will be going toe-to-toe with his old team.
After a largely forgettable first half (the fact that ref Martin Atkinson didn’t add a single minute of extra time raised a cheer of relief in the press box), the Blues flew out of the blocks and had the ball in the Saints’ net in 30 seconds flat… Olivier Giroud being fed by a close Eden Hazard pass and then deftly skipping through the defence, leaving a heap of Southampton defenders on the ground like the aftermath of a Keystone Cops escapade.
Saints tried to claw their way back into the match, but their strong-arm tactics merely resulted in a slew of bookings, and Chelsea refused to be intimidated.
Southampton sub Nathan Redmond came closest to levelling, firing a fierce low shot at Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal, but the keeper was able to deflect it wide.
A flurry of substitutions by Mark Hughes and Tony Conte culminated in Giroud being replaced by Alvaro Morata in the 80th minute, producing Chelsea’s second, clinching goal in under a minute of his arrival. A crossfield ball by Cesar Azpilicueta was nodded downwards by Morata, beating Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy.
In a final desperate effort to attack Chelsea, Charlie Austin hit the post from a tight angle, but the stadium was already emptying as the five minutes of extra time were played out, and the Blues secured their 2-0 win.
Choruses of ‘There’s only one Ray Wilkins’ followed by ‘There’s only one Roy Bentley’ underlined the fans’ strong bond with cherished and respected past Chelsea players. The match programme – printed before the announcement of Bentley’s death after a long, illustrious life – had already given Butch a warm farewell.
Featured: Halftime approaches at Wembley