Peep peep! Chelsea are set to face Liverpool in next month’s FA Cup final after a hard-fought win over Crystal Palace. After a quiet, grueling first hour, substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek gave Chelsea the lead after a mistake by Tyrick Mitchell.
Mason Mount’s stylish second goal gave them some breathing space and both sides missed excellent chances in the final 15 minutes.
90 min: Lukaku hits the post! Werner scurries left into the penalty area and creates a plate for Lukaku, who somehow hits the post from seven meters. Ziyech’s pursuit is desperately blocked on the line, I think, by Guehi.
89 min The player of the match is Timo Werner, who scored the second goal and worried Palace with his movement all day.
88 mins The game fizzles. Palace have given it their all but Chelsea are heading for another FA Cup final.
85 mins Meanwhile, Palace bring on Luka Milivojevic for Cheikhou Kouyate. And Rüdiger will continue.
84 mins Rudiger has what looks like a thigh or groin problem. Chelsea have used all five substitutions, although they get a sixth if it goes into extra time.
82 mins Chelsea make their fifth substitution with Thiago Silva replacing Andreas Christensen.
81 min Ziyech takes a direct shot at Butland from long range.
78 min: What a chance for Andersen! Palace should be back. Olise’s corner from the right was helped by Ayew and slid over the far post towards the unmarked Andersen. But he jumped too early and headed over the bar from four meters.
77 mins A triple change for Chelsea with N’Golo Kante, Hakim Ziyech and Romelu Lukaku replacing Jorginho, Mount and Havertz.
Mason Mount made it 2-0 with a beautiful finish. Werner on the left side of the box scored the goal with a nice square pass to Mount, straight into the box. He took it well, escaping Andersen and opening his body to sidefoot the ball into the far post. That’s a nice goal.
Chelsea will return to Wembley next month.
74 mins Ayew plays a deft pass into the box for Zaha, who takes it from Mendy who charges out. The angle is too wide for a shot, so he hits a cross on the turn instead, and eventually the attack fizzles.
72 mins Double change at Palace: Christian Benteke and Michael Olise replace James McArthur and Jeffrey Schlupp, so Patrick Vieira starts. And why not.
71 min Here’s the goal from Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
70 minutes Palace are preparing Christian Benteke.
69 mins Suddenly Chelsea have a bit of a strut on. It’s a long way from here for Palace, who have been in counterattack mode all afternoon.
67 mins It’s Loftus-Cheek’s first goal for Chelsea in three years, it says here.
Actually, it needed a distraction, not that Loftus-Cheek would care. Once Mitchell had possession, Havertz’s cross from the right caught Guehi and bounced off the edge of the box. Loftus-Cheek ran for the ball, twisted his body and smashed in a shot that hit Andersen and went into the net.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek puts Chelsea ahead with a sizzling finish!
63 mins A dangerous cross from Azpilicueta is headed away by Andersen in the six-yard box. Palace defended admirably.
61 min: What a chance for Palace! Eze’s swinging corner is narrowly missed by Kouyate, who misses his header attempt. He would probably have scored with a clean connection.
60 mins Zaha smashes through Christensen on the right and angles in a deep cross that Azpilicueta puts behind.
60 mins “This,” says Ian Copestake, “could go on forever.”
59 mins Chelsea completely dominate possession with around 70 percent in play but have yet to carve out a clear chance. It was a game of attrition.
57 mins I say 3-4-3; it really is a 5-4-1.
56 mins It looks like Palace have switched to a 3-4-3, with Ayew on the right flank, Eze on the left flank and Zaha the lone striker.
54 mins Palace move with Jordan Ayew replacing Jean-Philippe Mateta.
53 mins A Palace free-kick is headed into the air by Kouyate and claimed under the bar by Mendy.
52 mins Rüdiger’s hooves wide and wide from a distance.
51 mins Loftus-Cheek takes a return ball from Jorginho and smashes a clever through ball to Werner, who is knocked off the ball by Kouyate in the six yard box. good defence.
49 mins The mountain blazes in the distance.
48 mins Chelsea picked up where they left off at half-time, moving the ball back and forth to create an opening. Nothing to do so far.
46 mins Peep peep! Chelsea starts the second half.
“If Chelsea is the designated home team” asks Gary Byrne (and others), “why are they wearing yellow?”
I have no idea. You’re welcome!
Reading at halftime
Peep peep! An uneventful half comes to an end. Chelsea dominated possession but Palace came closest to scoring when Cheikhou Kouyate’s volley was shoved away by Edouard Mendy. See you in 15 minutes for the second half.
45 mins There are two extra minutes.
42 mins More importantly for Palace, they looked really solid defensively at that point. The only saves Jack Butland had to make were relatively comfortable.
40 mins There were some promising breaks from Palace, usually with Zaha, but their final pass was either poorly thought out or poorly executed.
39 mins “In last year’s Tactics final, Tom did similar things with James at center back to counter Vardy’s threat and that didn’t work,” says Yash Gupta. “In addition, this change of position on the right side of Chelsea took the offensive momentum. If anything, Palace has a good chance.”
38 mins Havertz is booked for diving in the Crystal Palace area after a challenge from Guehi. Chelsea wanted a penalty but replays showed it was a brilliant and brave decision from Taylor.
38 mins “This,” says Joe Pearson, “isn’t nearly as fun as yesterday’s semi.”