Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace: Blues into third successive FA Cup final
Chelsea secured their place in a third successive FA Cup final after second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount clinched the 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Wembley on Sunday.
The Blues have made something of a habit of reaching the FA Cup showpiece in recent years, contesting four of the past five, and while this semi-final win was by means vintage, Thomas Tuchel's side looked comfortable once they found the breakthrough.
Neither side showed much inspiration in attack during a cagey opening 45 minutes and there were few signs of improvement initially after the interval.
But a couple of kind deflections helped substitute Loftus-Cheek break the deadlock just past the hour for his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, and Mount's finish soon after ensured the Blues will face Liverpool for the trophy.
It took 35 minutes for a dull first half to come to life as Edouard Mendy did brilliantly to save a goal-bound volley from his Senegal team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate down to his left.
Kai Havertz attempted to win a penalty with a dive at the other end a few moments later, but referee Anthony Taylor saw through his deception and brandished a yellow card.
Kouyate went close again early in the second half when a header flew agonisingly off target and Chelsea capitalised in the 65th minute.
Havertz's cutback was diverted into Loftus-Cheek's path and another touch off a Palace defender took the midfielder's powerful strike out of Jack Butland's reach.
Mount wrapped things up 14 minutes from time, tucking a neat finish into the bottom-right corner after good work from Timo Werner, with Romelu Lukaku's dreadful late miss proving irrelevant.
What does it mean? Blues clinch opportunity for revenge
Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties at Wembley earlier this year to lift the EFL Cup, which could end up being part of an unprecedented quadruple for the Reds.
While it remains to be seen what happens in the Premier League and Champions League for Liverpool, Chelsea – the first team to reach the FA Cup final in three consecutive seasons since Arsenal between 2000-01 and 2002-03 – of course have another chance to put a spanner in the works. Vengeance will be on the cards as well.
Chelsea's record in recent FA Cup finals is not great, however, winning just one of four and losing each of the past two – no team has ever lost three in a row.
Werner continues promising run
Having scored three goals across his past two matches, Werner is in something of a purple patch and although a goal evaded him at Wembley, was effective yet again.
While he may have only managed a single shot, his four key passes was at least two more than anyone else on the pitch and he did well to tee up Mount's clincher and set up that chance for Lukaku, who struck against the post from close range.
A day to forget for Mitchell
Palace left-back Tyrick Mitchell slumped to the ground at full-time, his reaction hardly surprising after a difficult match.
It was his lapse that ultimately led to the attack for Chelsea's opener, and from there Patrick Vieira's men never looked likely to recover.
Key Opta Facts
- Two sides will contest both the EFL Cup and FA Cup final in the same campaign for only the second time, after 1992-93, when Arsenal beat Sheffield Wednesday in both finals.
- Palace have lost their last three matches played at Wembley, more than they suffered in their first seven games played at the home of English football (W4 D1 L2).
- Chelsea have won 10 matches in a row against Palace across all competitions, only their sixth separate instance of beating the same side 10+ times consecutively.
- Frank Lampard (four) is the only English player to have scored more Chelsea goals at Wembley than Mount (two).
- Werner has been directly involved in seven goals in seven starts in the FA Cup and since the beginning of last season, only Mount (22) has registered more assists for Chelsea in all competitions (17).
Chelsea will face Liverpool in the final on May 14. But first, another London derby awaits them on Wednesday as they host Arsenal in the Premier League, while Palace will try to bounce back against Newcastle United on the same day.