Antonio Conte’s men are in the final four of the FA Cup after edging past Leicester City in extra time. The clash between the last two Premier League champions was always going to be a fascinating encounter, with both sides clearly putting a lot of emphasis on the importance of progressing in the competition. They put out strong starting XIs, and as the game went on, you could feel that there was a certain sense of urgency regardless of the scoreline.
Moving forward the Blues will have a date at Wembley to look forward to in late April, where they’ll take on Southampton who defeated League One side Wigan Athletic earlier in the day. In the other semi-final Manchester United will face Tottenham Hotspur, but aside from that contest, Conte will feel confident that his team can progress to the final where they could pick up what would be their only piece of silverware this season.
There were always going to be some nerves heading into this game after Barcelona ended Chelsea’s Champions League ambitions earlier in the week. Because of that, many expected the Blues to have a slow start against the Foxes, but they were able to grow into the game nicely. Over the course of this season, they’ve struggled to make the kind of impact they did in the 2016/17 campaign, but thankfully they showed more resilience at the King Power Stadium than they have done in a long time.
Their hard work paid off, too, when Alvaro Morata gave Chelsea the lead just a few minutes before halftime. It was a much-needed goal for the forward who is completely devoid of confidence, and it’ll do him the world of good as he attempts to work his way back into the squad for Spain’s 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign.
In the second half, the game swung back and forth in either direction, as Chelsea’s narrow lead started to look more and more precarious. As the game entered the final 15 minutes you could sense the home side’s momentum growing, and Jamie Vardy popped up in the 76th minute to send the game into extra time – which is a feature that’s only been brought into the quarter-final stage in the last few years.
The extra time period was relatively quiet as both teams attempted to conserve energy until a poor decision from Kasper Schmeichel ensured that Pedro could head the ball into an empty net and give Chelsea the victory.
It wasn’t exactly an awe-inspiring performance from Chelsea by any means, but it’s exactly what the doctor ordered after a mid-week defeat which threatened to ruin their entire campaign. Their next game will take place after the international break when they host high-flying Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.
Leicester City: Schmeichel (5.5); Simpson (6) (Diabaté (N/A), 105′), Morgan (6), Maguire (6), Chilwell (6); Mahrez (6.5), Iborra (6) (Silva (N/A), 105′), Ndidi (6), Albrighton (7) (Gray (N/A), 115′); Iheanacho (5) (Okazaki (5), 68′), Vardy (7)
Chelsea: Caballero (6); Azpilicueta (6.5), Christensen (6.5) (Cahill (6.5), 101′), Rudiger (6); Moses (5), Kante (9), Bakayoko (4) (Fabregas (6), 45′), Alonso (5.5); Willian (8) (Pedro (6.5), 92′), Hazard (6); Morata (7) (Giroud (N/A), 105+1′)
Goals: Morata (42′), Vardy (76′), Pedro (105′)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Yellow Cards: Maguire (25′), Bakayoko (45′), Moses (89′)
Red Cards: N/A
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