Chelsea through to final after beating Tottenham 4-2 in thrilling FA Cup semi-final

Match Summary

Chelsea progressed to the final of the FA Cup with a hard-fought 4-2 win at Tottenham in a pulsating match at Wembley.

The Blues started off well with two goals by Willian but were pegged back by even better goals from Tottenham, firstly a Kane header and secondly an Alli strike, but Hazard and a Matic thunderbolt sealed the win late on.

It means Antonio Conte’s aspirations for a league and cup double are still on in his debut season, with Arsenal and Manchester City facing off tomorrow, but he did it the unorthodox way with Hazard and Costa left out of the starting line-up and instead using Willian and Batshuayi.

Spurs have won eight games in a row in all competitions, their best run since 1960, they have won just two of their last 16 meetings with Chelsea, and agonisingly now have lost seven FA Cup semi-finals in a row.

The last time these sides met in the FA Cup was at this stage in 2012, where Chelsea won convincingly 5-1 before winning the final against Liverpool.

A similar intent for victory was present from the off, with the Blues evidently keen to bounce back after last week’s tactical miscalculation against Manchester United, with Chelsea gaining the upper hand for the first quarter of an hour.

Pedro was instantly racing goalward inside three minutes, only to be hauled down by Toby Alderweireld, who Martin Atkinson gave an early yellow card to.

But Willian made sure the personal cost also went alongside a collective cost, curling the ball past the wall and beating Lloris’ near side. The goalkeeper should have done better, but take nothing away from Willian’s strike, which brought back memories of his set-pieces from yesteryear.

That could have soon become two but Michy Batshuayi was slow to react to Kante’s pass after a Vertonghen error, and the Belgian had another chance to assert his attacking abilities but fluffed his lines when presented with a free header, albeit he was in an offside position.

Chelsea had let-offs of their own in an open and frenetic first half: a stray Azpilicueta back-pass nearly was intercepted by Alli with the stand-in captain unaware of his surroundings, but the Chelsea defence had so far stood firm, making good tackles with Nathan Ake particularly impressing deputising for the injured Gary Cahill.

Kante was thankfully alive to a quick Spurs free-kick from Eriksen to Kane, but the next time these two partnered up Spurs would have their equaliser, with Kane adjusting his body to head in quite superbly past Courtois.

The goal galvanised Tottenham, who had a penalty appeal when Azpilicueta stuck out his leg with Kane in the box, but Atkinson was to preside over a fairly lenient game.

Vertonghen then delivered a beautiful ball which Dier glanced wide, but it was another let-off, as was two chances straight after that when Kane and Alli were both through.

Chelsea did regain the lead just before half-time though. Moses cantered forward and a late lunge by Son looked destined to be a spot-kick. Even though contact was light, Ian Hussin decided to award the penalty where Martin Atkinson was unsighted, but the ensuing kerfuffle was unsightly, with Batshuayi and Willian fighting over the ball, to be separated by Azpilicueta under Conte’s orders to give it to the Brazilian. Thankfully Willian made no mistake for his brace.

Lloris then made a real hash of a block and handled the ball outside of the box, but Hussin shied out of making this call.

It did not, however, take Tottenham long to get back into it after the restart, and again with a fantastic goal.

An assist-of-the-season contender by Eriksen found Alli, racing in between Luiz and Azpilicueta to control the first-time volley and hammering it past Courtois. It was a spectacular goal but disappointing Chelsea defending.

Spurs then appealed for two penalties and a free-kick, all waved away by Atkinson, whilst Pedro tried to get Chelsea back in front for the third time in the game, but was too slow in his counter.

On came Eden Hazard and Diego Costa at exactly the hour-mark point, and then later Fabregas for Pedro, but Spurs were still, at least initially, on front foot. A corner whipped in thankfully evaded everyone, whilst Dembele outmuscled his countryman Hazard when the latter tried to counter.

But Chelsea’s first corner, after 75 minutes, was to yield their third goal. The ball fell kindly to Eden Hazard, who was completely unmarked on the edge of the box and buried it in Lloris’ far post.

If that was a good strike Chelsea fans needed to wait only five minutes more for one of the best of their season. It took Matic until late-April to record his first goal of the season, but what a corker it was, receiving the square ball off Hazard and hammering it 30 yards out crisply, striking the under-side of the crossbar and nestling in the back of the net.

The Tottenham fightback petered out in the final ten and it was a question of whether Chelsea could inflict more misery and make it a five-star performance.

Hazard rounded Lloris, but the angle was too tight and his pull back to Alonso did not lead to anything, whilst Costa had a free header from two yards out.

Back-spin stopped a potent Kane free-kick from crossing the line and making Chelsea fans sweat for the final 60 seconds, but Chelsea did manage to cross the line, where they return to Wembley in five weeks’ time to fight for the trophy.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

ANTONIO CONTE: Much was made of Conte’s decision to not start Hazard and Costa, and if it backfired the Italian would not have heard the last of it, but, in the same ilk as Mourinho trumping Conte by resting Ibrahimovic last week, did Conte mess up Pochettino’s entire week’s training by dropping Hazard and Costa for the first hour? Mind games or not, the effect worked, with substitute Willian scoring two goals and Hazard scoring the winner when he did come on. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was proud: “I am proud for this achievement. It is great for the players for me. This is my first season in England and it is great to fight for the title and reach the final of the FA Cup, a great competition. Eden and Diego knew very well my plan because in this situation it is important to be clear to all of the players.”

Pochettino was reflective: “Congratulations to Chelsea. We dominated the game but they were more clinical than us. I feel proud, we were fantastic in the way we played and in our philosophy.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Chelsea hand Leicester City title by holding Tottenham to 2-2 draw

Match Summary

Reigning champions Chelsea crowned Leicester City, and their former manager Claudio Ranieri, with the title after holding Tottenham to a feisty 2-2 draw.

In one of sports most magical fairy-tales, a dramatic fightback from Chelsea secured Leicester their first league title in their 132-year history, as Tottenham lost their cool with 9 yellow cards.

After Spurs scored two first-half goals through Kane and Son, it looked like the pressure would be back on Leicester on Saturday, but Chelsea dug deep in what became a series of personal duels, as Hazard and Chelsea gave their former manager the ultimate reward.

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After Leicester could only draw to Manchester United yesterday evenimg, Tottenham knew they could close the gap on first place with a win.

The side in the way was Chelsea, who Tottenham have not beaten at Stamford Bridge since 1990, but it was the North London side with the form.

Cahill, looking to preserve history, got a free header for the game’s early chance, whilst Fabregas steered his shot wide of Lloris’ goal, as Tottenham looked cagey in the opening stages.

They settled into their stride soon after, with Son and Rose getting long-range drives away, but Chelsea hit back through Costa and again Cahill was proving to be a nuisance at corners.

It was the visitors who got the game’s first goal though, with Kane timing his run to perfection as Terry, returning from injury, was a yard off the pace in playing his fellow countryman onside. Kane rounded Begovic to score his 25th league goal of the season.

It had been coming, with Tottenham’s pace putting into question Hiddink’s judgement to start with the slow defensive pairing of Cahill and Terry, but Chelsea looked to hit back instantly from a throw-in as Vertonghen was caught sleeping but the Spaniard was too slow to get a shot away.

Lamela and Son nearly squirmed the ball in after a melee in the Chelsea penalty area before Cahill hacked the ball away, as the tension rose.

One became two through Son, again found clean through to rifle home an easy goal as Begovic was beaten at his near post.

But no team has lost more Premier League games when leading by 2 or moregoals at half-time than Spurs, and the second half was Chelsea’s, and in particular Eden Hazard’s. Though his introduction was with a weak shot, he teamed up well with Costa and Willian and it was his energy which sent Tottenham into havoc as the game became scrappy. Lamela was fourth in the book for scything down Fabregas.

Cahill headed home to get Chelsea back into the game after losing Toby Alderweireld from a corner, but Tottenham had their chances as both Mason and Eriksen has one-on-one opportunities.

The momentum swung back in Chelsea’s favour and Fabregas and Hazard nearly combined for Costa, who was inches away from sliding in.

The equaliser came in the 83rd minute.

Superb work from Costa and Oscar saw the ball run to Hazard, who latched onto it first time to loop the ball over Lloris. It was his first Premier League goal in 365 days at Stamford Bridge, the last being the goal at Crystal Palace to win Chelsea the title.

It set up a frenetic final few moments as Tottenham got rough, but Chelsea hung on and Claudio Ranieri will toast this one with many more pizzas.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

eden-hazard.thumbnailEDEN HAZARD: After Hazard’s dreadful season, he was laughed at for coming out a few weeks ago and saying he did not want Tottenham to win the title, but whilst he talked the talk he most definitely walked the walk in his 45-minute cameo. Tore Tottenham to pieces and it is refreshing to see he has not lost his quick turn of pace. Took his goal expertly and will enjoy this one; it was arguably his best performance in a Chelsea shirt this season. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Hiddink was in contact with Ranieri straight after: “Just after the game I got a call from Ranieri and he thanked us for what we did in the second half. I congratulated him for being champions and they deserve it. I didn’t see any tears because it wasn’t a FaceTime conversation but his voice was trembling a bit. He said thanks five times.”

Pochettino was dignified: “First of all I congratulate Leicester and Claudio Ranieri and his players and supporters. Disappointed because at 2-0 up in the first half, in the second half we have to counter and score the third but this happens. Very disappointed but at the same time very proud of my players.”

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tottenham Hotspur 5-3 Chelsea: Match Reaction

Match Summary

Chelsea start 2015 with a humiliating loss as they crumbled to a 5-3 defeat at Tottenham.

Mourinho, who has only ever conceded five goals once when at Real Madrid, was to witness a shocking New Year show — A Comedy of Errors — at White Hart Lane. Costa started proceedings but Kane, Rose and Townsend hit back before the half-time whistle was sounded. Kane and Chadli added to it and Terry’s consolation added to a thrilling eight-goal contest.

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The reality is Chelsea is still top of the table, on goals scored, but the sucker-punch would be much more lasting.

It had all started so well. Costa poked home after an exceptional Hazard run saw his shot hit the post, with Oscar on hand to feed Costa.

But then it went downhill. Kane was allowed too much room as his tracker, Oscar, was fearful of conceding a free-kick, but the actual repercussions were to be more severe: an equaliser.

A seemingly killer goal was scored just before the half-time whistle blew. Tottenham attacked and hit the post, and when Cahill stopped because he thought it was going in, Danny Rose could run all the way from his left-back position to take home.

That was not even the killer goal. Cahill committed another crime — unforgivable — by bringing down Kane and Townsend made it three in the added time at the end of the first half that came about from Tottenham’s celebration for Rose’s goal.

Mourinho knew they had to chase the game, so when looking at the bench of who to bring on, it was decided the ever-so-prolific Ramires was the answer. Remy and Drogba was to never appear.

Kane made it four seven minutes into the second half, but the yoyo-ing was to keep going. Hazard pulled one back, Chadli restored the hosts’ three-goal advantage before Terry tapped home.

It was a catalogue of errors from both defences.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

eden-hazard.thumbnailEDEN HAZARD: The only Chelsea player who played, today. Scored one and played the defining part of Costa’s opener. Other than him, it was totally shocking how abject Matic, Cahill and Courtois were. Nearly all of the Spurs goals were from a similar position and no-one picked it up at the first, second, third, fourth or indeed fifth time. Startling. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Mourinho was not in speaking mood: “I don’t want to be punished. I want to be around for the next match so I prefer to say that we just lost. Tomorrow is another day.”

Pochettino was delighted: “It was a great performance by the team. The most important thing today was our performance, to be believe in our way. The team showed a big mentality.”

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had three years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.