A first-half Eden Hazard penalty was enough to see Chelsea lift the FA Cup against Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Belgian won the spot-kick in the 22nd minute of the game and converted with a cool finish to ensure the Blues secured their eighth FA Cup victory in what could potentially be Antonio Conte’s last match in charge of the London club.
No penalty problems for Hazard
David De Gea had to be at his best in the opening stages as Hazard staged a fantastic counter-attack. The Belgian wriggled into the box and tested the United stopper with a low drive but he saved well with his leg at the near post.
There were soon loud appeals as Tiémoué Bakayoko stumbled under the challenge of Nemanja Matic as he attempted to power into the United penalty area. Referee, Michael Oliver, was uninterested, however.
A penalty did come soon after with Hazard yet again racing away from the Manchester United defence following a sumptuous piece of control. Phil Jones acrimoniously scythed down the winger, with the referee pointing to the spot. Hazard himself stepped up and stroked the ball into the bottom corner.
United end the first-half strongly
Paul Pogba had the first real opportunity for the Red Devils as they looked to get back into the clash but sent a low effort just wide of the upright.
Previously the pantomime villain, Jones, had an excellent opportunity to equalise just before half-time. He was close to connecting with a teasing cross from Ashley Young at the back post but the ball whistled just over the defender’s head.
Paul Pogba also produced a powerful driving run through the centre of the park to provide Marcus Rashford with a chance. The England forward failed to make a decisive connection, however, and the first-period ended with Chelsea’s lead in tact.
Chelsea nervous on the hour
Jose Mourinho’s men started much the better in the second-period. Rashford again found space on the edge of the area and tested Thibaut Courtois with a great low drive that was parried away.
The ball did eventually find its way into the net through Alexis Sanchez but the strike was ruled out for offside. The Chilean had pounced following an excellent Courtois save to deny Jones from a free-kick, but the United celebrations did not last too long.
Chances cascade in closing stages
Arguably the biggest chance of the second-half fell to Marcos Alonso. The Spaniard had been played-through by N’Golo Kante. He aimed for goal with a low strike but De Gea held firm to deflect the ball away,
The trick was also repeated by Courtois in the Chelsea box as he saved from Rashford’s poked attempt. Former Chelsea man Matic also tried his luck from distance but his powerful shot was parried well by Courtois.
A free header came the way of Pogba with only ten minutes left on the clock but he could only nod it wide to the anguish of the Manchester United support.
For all their endeavour, the final whistle came and went without Manchester United unable to find an equalising goal, meaning Chelsea lifted the FA Cup for the eighth time.
A somewhat drab FA Cup final in the opening stages changed completely as opportunities aplenty began to present themselves. Both sides were offensively brilliant, with surely the man-of-the-match being Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. The Belgian was in inspired form throughout the afternoon and it was his endeavour that earned his eventual winning penalty.
Overall, Chelsea deserved their victory over former manager Jose Mourinho, having lifted their eighth FA Cup.
Chelsea: Courtois (8); Azpilicueta (7), Cahill (7), Rudiger (7); Moses (6), Fàbregas (7), Kanté (7), Bakoyoko (6), Alonso (7); Hazard (8) (Willian (N/A), 90+1′), Giroud (7) (Morata (N/A), 89′).
Manchester United: De Gea (7); Young (6), Jones (5) (Mata (N/A), 87′), Smalling (7), Valencia (7); Pogba (6), Matić (6), Herrera (6); Sánchez (6), Rashford (7) (Lukaku (5), 73′), Lingard (5) (Martial (6), 73′).
Goals: Hazard PEN (22′)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Yellow Cards: Jones (22′), Valencia (58′), Courtois (90+3′)
Red Cards: N/A
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!