Chelsea will play Manchester United in the FA Cup final after dispatching of Southampton 2-0 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Blues dominated their last-four match-up with the Saints but went into the break level. However, goals from Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata secured their victory and chance of silverware in the second-half after what has been a mostly disappointing season thus far.
Fast Blues start at the national stadium
Chelsea started excellently at Wembley and Eden Hazard almost found the opening strike within the first few minutes. Giroud, who was the game-changing substitute against the Saints a little over a week ago, combined well with Hazard. The Belgian then sent a powerful strike fizzing just over the crossbar.
The wideman was key in the Blues’ next chance that smacked off the crossbar. He broke on the counter-attack and played through Willian. The Brazilian though was unfortunate to see his shot cannon off of the woodwork.
Maya Yoshida then had to be at his best as Chelsea again scythed through the Saints’ backline but the Japanese defender was there with a crucial block to deny Hazard.
Chelsea continue to press for opener
Chelsea were by far the dominant team and yet more good work from Hazard presented Giroud with a chance. The Belgian got to the by-line and cut-back to the French striker but he could only send his low effort wide of the post.
The former Arsenal striker then went close to opening the scoring with a spectacular effort. He attempted to flick home a cross from Cesc Fabregas but the ball then bounced kindly for the Frenchman which he struck with a fantastic volley but the ball just whistled wide of Alex McCarthy’s goal.
Despite having the majority of the play, Antonio Conte’s men were not able to open the scoring as the first-half drew to a close.
Giroud strikes early in the second-period
The former Premier League champions were not to be denied though as Giroud netted less than a minute in the second-half. Latching onto a great pass from Hazard in the box, he showed excellent composure to dance around a few challenges and stab the ball home from close range – leaving numerous Southampton bodies in his wake.
The Blues nearly doubled their advantage as Hazard curled an effort just wide.
Southampton finally managed to threaten however and had a golden opportunity to equalise. Shane Long was played through by Charlie Austin and attempted to take the ball around Caballero but a heavy touch saw the ball dribble out for a goal kick.
Barrage of chances livens up Wembley
Mark Hughes’ struggling Saints did continue to create chances despite the deficit. Substitute Nathan Redmond tested the former Manchester City man with a clever low drive but he was equal to it.
The stopper though might have felt a little fortunate not long after as Southampton had an equaliser ruled out. Caballero looked to be claiming what was a routine corner but dropped the ball and fell into the goal. The referee however ruled the strike out for a foul by Charlie Austin.
Chelsea secure victory in style
Conte’s men wrapped up their comfortable victory though as substitute Alvaro Morata headed home. In what has seemed like a move replicated numerous times throughout the season, Cesar Azpilicueta crossed towards the Spanish striker. Morata then nodded into the floor, with the ball bouncing over the line.
The Saints almost had a life-line as Austin slid in at the back post and connected with a low cross but he could only strike the post.
Morata then wasted the chance to bag his second from six yards out as a heroic block from Yoshida kept the scores at 2-0.
In the end however, that was all the Chelsea needed as they reached the FA Cup final.
Whilst Southampton did give the Blues a bit of a scare in the second period, on the balance of play, Chelsea deserve their position in the final. They created the far better chances on the day and had most of the ball throughout the game. They also defended excellently to starve their opponents of any real chances.
They now go into the final to face Manchester United on May 19th.
Mark Hughes will be disappointed his Saints’ side was not able to trouble Chelsea all that much. They were solid if unspectacular but the goals could very easily have been avoided. They defended stoutly in the first period but Chelsea’s quality told after the break. They are now forced to concentrate on their task for survival in the Premier League.
Chelsea: Caballero (7); Azpilicueta (7), Rudiger (7); Moses (6), Fabregas (7) (Pedro (N/A), 76′), Kante (7), Emerson (6); Willian (6) (Bakayoko (6), 64′), Hazard (8), Giroud (8) (Morata (7), 80′).
Southampton: McCarthy (5); Hoedt (6), Yoshida (6), Bednarek (5) (Gabbiadini (5), 78′) Romeu (5), Soares (6), Lemina (6), Hojbjerg (6) (Tadic (5), 63′), Bertrand (6); Austin (7), Long (6) (Redmond (7), 63′).
Goals: Giroud (46′), Morata (82′)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Yellow Cards: Yoshida (40’), Romeu (50′), Lemina (55′), Hoedt (65′)
Red Cards: N/A
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