Chelsea reached the FA Cup final for the first time since 2018 with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Wembley on Sunday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’ United came into the game on the back of a 19 game unbeaten run and having already beaten Chelsea on three separate occasions this season. As such, they were perceived to have the edge over their domestic rivals.
What transpired was to the contrary, however, as Frank Lampard’s side set about asserting their dominance with a highly organised pressing game.
Whilst much of the first-half saw The Blues dominate the ball it took until the eleventh minute of stoppage time for Olivier Giroud to open the scoring.
Following a lengthy delay caused by a troubling head injury to Eric Bailly, Giroud stole a march on Harry Maguire to poke the ball past David De Gea.
De Gea, who had replaced usual FA Cup goalkeeper Sergio Romero, got a strong hand to Giroud’s effort and should have done better in his attempt to claw the ball away to safety. The Spaniard’s day didn’t get any better as within minutes of the second-half restart, De Gea had let Mason Mount’s long-range effort through his body and into the goal.
Solskjaer reverted back to his strongest team, bringing on Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba, but it was Chelsea who struck again thanks to a Maguire own goal. The Englishman steered Marcos Alonso’s cross past his own ‘keeper whilst under pressure from Antonio Rudiger.
Bruno Fernandes then struck a consolation goal from the penalty spot but it was a case of too little too late for United. Chelsea will now meet Arsenal in the final, as Lampard looks to win his first piece of managerial silverware.
Here’s how we rated the Blues after the game.
Willy Caballero - 6
Quick off his line and comfortable in possession. A confident display from the veteran goalkeeper.
Cesar Azpilicueta - 8
Made some excellent overlapping runs to allow Reece James time in the half-spaces. His delivery into Giroud for the first goal was superb, and he has begun to strike up a very fruitful partnership with the Frenchman since the restart.
Kurt Zouma - 7
Played well, dominating the ball aerially and distributing quickly to help beat the United press.
Antonio Rudiger - 8
For the first time in a long time, Rudiger struck the right balance between aggression and overzealousness. His passing range was excellent and he made a fantastic run across the near post to force Maguire into conceding the third goal.
Reece James - 8
By far his best performance in a Chelsea shirt. Showed a great understanding of when to engage the press and when to drop off and his relationship down the right-hand side with Azpilicueta allowed him to drive through the middle of the park and create space out wide.
Jorginho - 7
After a string of disappointing displays, Jorginho went a long way to reminding people how good he can be. Situated in a double pivot and protected by a back three, he patrolled the middle of the park superbly. He and Kovacic were acutely aware of their roles and responsibilities, either when pressing or offering a passing option.
Mateo Kovacic - 7.5
Snapped into the tackle and dragged Chelsea through the transition with his bursts upfield – he completed the most dribbles (4) of any player on the pitch.
Marcos Alonso - 7
It’s remarkable how one system can truly transform an individual’s value to a team. Alonso, restored to his favoured wing-back position, was relentless in helping Chelsea stretch the play. Given the freedom to pick up positions in and around the box, his darting runs caused havoc, especially for Chelsea’s third goal.
Willian - 7
One player whose inclusion surprised many was that of Willian’s. Having started nine successive games since the restart, Lampard could hardly be blamed for wanting to rest the Brazilian. Instead, however, Willian rose to the occasion and combined excellently with James and Azpilicueta. His tireless tracking back disrupted United’s counter-attacks and allowed Chelsea to consolidate possession.
Olivier Giroud - 8.5
That’s now four goals in his last four starts for Giroud, who appears to be ageing like a fine wine. His blindside runs caused all sorts of problems for United’s static defence and he was rewarded with the opening goal. Chelsea dominated the first half and much of this came down to Giroud’s excellent hold-up play. He diverted the attentions of United’s centre-halves and allowed Chelsea’s wide men to create overloads. Giroud would then dart in front to try and meet the incoming cross at the near post.
Mason Mount - 7
Fortune favours the brave and Mount’s goal was no more than he deserved for his enterprising display. Like Willian, his energy didn’t appear to drop off despite the fact he too has started the majority of games since the restart. The youngster also recorded a pass accuracy of 92.3%, which ranked second only to James. Quick thinking, incisive passing and superb movement on and off the ball.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – 5: A really sluggish cameo off the bench. Coming on to replace Willian’s work rate was always going to be a hard task, but a lazy tackle to gift United a penalty was then compounded by a wayward effort in the last minute of play.
Tammy Abraham – 6: Showed some nice touches, especially with a flick round the corner to release Hudson-Odoi.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 6: Videos of him bodying Paul Pogba will likely do the rounds on social media, but other than that, he kept it simple in possession.
Pedro – N/A: Came on in added time and had the opportunity to test De Gea but ultimately failed to do so.