Chelsea have a shot at winning their seventh Millennium FA Cup next month after a comfortable 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Wembley in the semifinals.
A dominant display on both boxes temporarily relieved Frank Lampard’s squad of recent criticism, as Olivier Giroud and Mason Mount attacked while Harry Maguire’s goal brushed salt in the wound of Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Bruno Fernandes stepped forward to score a late penalty for United, but that was the only consolation for the well-defeated Red Devils.
A total contrast defensive performance when considering recent Blues Premier League duels against Crystal Palace and Sheffield United. Frank Lampard’s two wingers, Reece James and Marcos Alonso, pressed with great intensity to match the pace of their teammates’ work.
Fans will also be encouraged by Willian and Cesar Azpilicueta’s link game effectiveness, as United were rarely allowed to set a pace in a fairly one-sided FA Cup semi-final draw.
– Stream FC Daily seven days a week on ESPN + (US only)
– Did you miss something? The latest from Europe’s top leagues
Given Chelsea’s pressing focus in this afternoon’s cup semifinal, fouls were always committed. And on a strong day, United could easily have converted more than once from free kicks ideally located on the perimeter of Chelsea’s penalty area. The only flaw in what was a good performance.
Manager Rating 10
9 – Frank Lampard’s brilliant tactical approach to this FA Cup semi-final should be praised amid doubts about Chelsea’s defensive performance in the Premier League in recent memory. A combination of minor tweaks went a long way in changing Chelsea’s fortunes, as the likes of James and Alonso progressed excellently while Mount’s persistence on the chalk helped the transition game improve tenfold.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10 = Better, Players submitted after 70 minutes do not get a rating)
GK Willy Caballero, 7 years old – He retained his starting XI spot from last month’s quarterfinal victory over Leicester and delivered a solid but unspectacular performance. His distribution was good, while the stopping of shots was very important since a low quality United struggled to pierce Chelsea’s back.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 8 – The excellent calm in possession earned Azpilicueta deserved assistance at the end of the opening half in a move that reflected previous attempts to open the scoring on the left side.
DF Kurt Zouma, 8 years old – A regular threat in United’s penalty area, Zouma backed his efforts up front with excellent defensive performance that was clearly helped by Lampard’s decision to play three in the back. He got some cheap fouls, but that’s to be expected when considering Chelsea’s high pace.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 8 years old – Like his defensive teammates Azpilicueta and Zouma, Rudiger was extremely well focused on defense and acted quickly to eliminate any counterattack by United. Marcus Rashford was controlled well to the right as well to stop the Red Devils’ advance.
MF Reece James, 9 years old – James’ license to move forward gave Chelsea a new lease on life in advance. But Lampard’s aggressive tactic did not impede the 20-year-old’s ability to back down and defend himself quickly when United rarely came into possession. A good defensive performance that you can build on.
MF Jorginho, 8 – Bruno Fernandes’ resurgent form was always going to be difficult to control, but Jorginho helped limit United’s key man effectiveness brilliantly with a good midfield performance that took the pressure off the defenders behind him.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 8 – He gained possession well in midfield against a poor United XI who never molded during the 90 minutes of play. The quick thinking game under pressure, in particular, stood out as Kovacic’s strong point.
MF Marcos Alonso, 8 – A strong work ethic and great intensity, both in and out of possession, allowed Alonso to control his playing area and his collapse any time United seemed ready to mount an attack challenge.
Willian, 9 – His impressive pace of work acted as a catalyst for Chelsea to move forward with great confidence. It wouldn’t have hurt Willian to occasionally look at Mount and Giroud’s career options, but overall it was an excellent class-filled performance by the Brazilian.
FW Olivier Giroud, 9 years old – A man marked by Harry Maguire at all times, Giroud played with great rhythm and put his body on the line to win several long balls with his head. The typical poachers ending added to their impressive FA Cup tally.
FW Mason Mount, 8 – He wasn’t afraid to try his luck at a distance, and he tested David De Gea twice before scoring in fortuitous circumstances after the break thanks to the United goalkeeper who softened his lines. His great rhythm and energy complemented the work of Willian and Giroud.
FW Tammy Abraham, N / R – He replaced Giroud amid recent rumors about the England man’s long-term future at the club.
MF Callum Hudson-Odoi, N / R – The young man relieved worker Willian but dropped Anthony Martial to give United a late penalty kick and a consolation goal.
MF Pedro, N / R – The veteran escaped in what will be one of his final appearances with the Blues.