Chelsea reached the FA Cup final for the fourth time in five seasons as they beat Manchester City 1-0 to end Pep Guardiola’s quadruple dream.
The game sprang to life in the second half after an opening period to forget, with City losing Kevin De Bruyne to an injury just after break, before Hakim Ziyech slotted Chelsea into a 55th minute lead.
A much-changed City never really looked like getting back into the contest, with Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal finishing the match having barely made a save.
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Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea celebrates with teammates after scoring their team’s first goal during the Semi Final of the Emirates FA Cup match between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Wembley Stadium on April 17, 2021 in London, England
Image credit: Getty Images
Pep Guardiola made eight changes to the side who beat Borussia Dortmund in midweek and it showed, as they struggled to test Kepa, deputising for Edouard Mendy in the cup for the Blues once more.
Chelsea had the best chance of a poor first half, with Ben Chilwell volleying just wide, when he had more time than he realised.
Then came the worrying sight of De Bruyne limping off for City, with Champions League semi finals on the horizon, and without their skipper, City were unlocked by a long ball over the top, Werner used his pace, before sliding Ziyech in for the opener. That was Werner’s ninth assist to go with his 10 goals this season. Not bad for a striker supposedly struggling for form.
Ziyech had a great chance to double his side’s lead moments later, but Chelsea strolled to victory in the end, with City offering very little as an attacking force. City have now been eliminated at the semi-final stage in three of their five seasons under Guardiola, with the team knocking them out the other two times going on to win the competition.
TALKING POINT – TUCHEL-BALL PERFECT FOR CUP FOOTBALL
In a one-off match, Jose Mourinho may have met his match. After nullifying the Premier League champions-elect with ease, Thomas Tuchel’s system once again produced the goods.
He says he only works on the defence in training 10 per cent of the time, but that may be a little white lie. In these big games, while it may not always be pretty on the eye, setting up, first and foremost, not to get beat, and edging it 1-0 is the way to go.
With so much quality in all attacking areas, without overcommitting too many forward, Chelsea are always going to get openings, and with their almost impenetrable backline, that is the perfect blend in key cup, one-off battles.
MAN OF THE MATCH – N’Golo Kante
The little man was everywhere for the cause, and as City pressed in the second half, there was one man who was always first to apply the pressure. He is very much back to his best.
Chelsea: Kepa 6, Azpilicueta 7, Thiago Silva 7, Rudiger 8, James 7, Jorginho 8, Kante 8, Chilwell 6, Ziyech 7, Werner 7, Mount 6… Subs: Emerson 6, Zouma N/A, Havertz 6, Pulisic 6.
Man City: Steffen 6, Cancelo 5, Dias 6, Laporte 6, Mendy 4, Rodrigo 5, Fernandinho 6, De Bruyne 6, Torres 4, Sterling 4, Jesus 6… Subs: Gundogan 6, Foden 6.
20’ – CHANCE! Best opportunity of the match so far. Reece James clips a cross to the back post, Joao Cancelo misses it, Ben Chilwell arrives, but slices his volley wide. He had more time that he realised. Could have brought it down.
55’ – GGGGOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLL! Chelsea 1-0 Man City. We have a breakthrough, and it is Ziyech with the tap-in. A simple goal really. Werner’s pace takes his away from the last defender down the left, he feeds the ball across for Ziyech, and with Steffen in no man’s land, the Moroccan can slide the ball into the empty net.
60’ – CHANCE! Should really be two. Long ball from Chilwell sails over the City backline, Ziyech is on to it, prods for goal, but Steffen, again way of his line, makes the block.
90+3’ – NO GOAL! Pulisic does brilliantly to take the ball past Mendy before firing home, but the flag is up. Correct decision.
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Since Thomas Tuchel’s first game in charge of Chelsea in January, the Blues have kept more clean sheets in all competitions than any other side in the top five European leagues (14).
Chelsea have kept 14 clean sheets in 19 games in all competitions under Thomas Tuchel, one more than they did under Frank Lampard in 29 matches this season.
Four of Hakim Ziyech’s five goals for Chelsea have come in cup competition, while three of his five strikes for the Blues have been assisted by Timo Werner.
Timo Werner has been involved in 19 goals in all competitions this season (10 goals, 9 assists), at least three more than any other Chelsea player.
In his 11th appearance for Man City in all competitions, this was the first time goalkeeper Zack Steffen has ended on the losing side, having won each of his first 10 games for the club.
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