LONDON: Making it into cup finals seems to become a habit with Chelsea as their comfortable 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace saw them enter their fifth FA Cup final in six years and their third in succession. It followed their appearance only in February in the League Cup final when they lost to Liverpool after a penalty shoot-out. The two teams will meet again in the final next month.
Liverpool, in top form, are chasing four possible trophies this season and the Chelsea Manager, Thomas Tuchel, who has taken Chelsea to six finals during his 15-month reign remains undaunted. He said: “I don’t care about their (Liverpool) other titles. We lost a final (League Cup) and we gave everything in that final. It was a big match that went until the very last penalty and we were unlucky and lost it. Of course, we want to turn things around.”
He added: “We were here last season in the FA Cup final, we are again here and that means an unbelievable lot to us because the FA Cup is the most prestigious and traditional cup in the world. All we can do now is to be well prepared because it will be another hard fight given their quality and run of form. It makes the season so much sweeter if you have a final you can win.”
The first half was dull, with Chelsea it seemed a case of tired legs after their epic Champions League quarter final away to Real Madrid in midweek. Palace looked underwhelmed and seemed to wait for counter attacks. Chelsea missed a chance to score on the half hour when Cesar Azpilicueta miscued a volley from a cross by Timo Werner.
It wasn’t until 20 minutes after the break that Chelsea scored and took control. Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell lost possession which allowed Kai Havertz to cross — clipping Marc Guehi — to substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek who had replaced the injured Mateo Kovacic. Loftus-Cheek was quick to unleash a fierce shot into the roof of the net with a slight deflection from Guehi in a packed penalty area.
Chelsea were now in full flow and in the 76th minute doubled the lead. Jordan Ayew lost the ball allowing Timo Werner, who had a fine game and was man-of-the-match, to exchange passes with Mason Mount who, having advanced into the box, steered the ball inside the right post. The game seemed over for Palace.
Finally, in the last minute, striker, Romelu Lukaku, on as substitute, missed a sitter when he inexplicably hit the post from close range. His loss of form seems to continue.
Palace Manager, Patrick Vieira, said: “We had chances and we didn’t score. We had a couple of opportunities where we didn’t give the ball at the right time. there’s still a big gap between Chelsea and ourselves. But I’m very proud of the players and the way they performed against a team who have been European champions and should be on a different level to us.”
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