Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace, FA Cup semifinal: Post-match reaction, ratings
On Palace’s side, Patrick Vieira had to handle Conor Gallagher’s absence as the Chelsea loanee could not feature against his parent club in one of Crystal Palace’s most important matches of the season. Thomas Tuchel’s struggles on the other hand were more on the fatigue side, with the Blues dealing with all the issues that come from playing 120 minutes of football in a Champions League midweek match against Real Madrid.
It should not be a surprise that neither team were in their sharpest form throughout the first half. Outside of a Cheikhou Kouyaté volley in our box that forced Édouard Mendy into a great parry, and the shot on post from Andersen that followed the rebound on that play, danger provided by either side was very little in the first 45 minutes of play.
Second half started out a bit better for the Blues, but not by a large margin. Both teams still struggled to find proper chances in attack, with sluggish and uninspiring play plaguing everyone on the pitch.
Kouyaté was again the man to threaten Chelsea’s clean sheet. With Mendy left stranded on a corner play, the midfielder was able to beat everyone and rise highest to hit the ball with a header. Luckily it went off target.
A few minutes later Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who once spent a season on loan at Palace, would show them how it’s done. With the ball falling to him in the box, he would not think twice to just strike a powerful valley at goal and into the back of the net to put the Blues in the lead at Wembley.
With Palace pushing for an immediate equaliser, Chelsea needed to throw cold water on their plans. They would do so via Mason Mount, out of a smart run from the midfielder/attacker to find himself free to shoot and score his 12th goal of the season so far.
Three changes made from the starting lineup that faced Real Madrid last Tuesday, with Andreas Christensen substituting Thiago Silva, César Azpilicueta in place of Ruben Loftus-Cheek as right wing-back and Jorginho in for N’Golo Kanté.
Subs are Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Mateo Kovacic — forced early by injury, Hakim Ziyech for Mason Mount, Romelu Lukaku for Kai Havertz, N’Golo Kanté for Jorginho, and Thiago Silva for Andreas Christensen.
Get well soon, Kova!
That first half was really lacking from both sides. Tiredness is likely the major factor here but still, this was not entertaining in the least.
The second half however… That was some proper play from Chelsea. Especially with Loftus-Cheek showing how it should be done in the box, opting for a volley instead of dilly-dallying with the ball.