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Key talking points as Blues leave it late to finish off Foxes
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Matthew Hill
Carney Chukwuemeka struck an injury-time winner for Chelsea
Carney Chukwuemeka struck an injury-time winner for Chelsea

Chelsea booked their place in the final four of the FA Cup with a hard-fought 4-2 success over Championship leaders Leicester.

Strikes from Marc Cucurella and Cole Palmer had the Blues in cruise control at half-time before a disastrous Axel Disasi own-goal and Stephy Mavididi's stunner levelled things after the break.

But the plucky Foxes were unable to hold on after having Callum Doyle dismissed, with substitutes Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke settling things via smart stoppage-time strikes.

Here are the key talking points from a dramatic encounter at Stamford Bridge.

Far Blue easy

Enzo Maresca's visitors had no intention of ditching their front-foot style of play despite the strength of their opposition.

The Foxes have flourished in the second tier playing expansive, possession-based football where their defensive line pushes high to support attacks at every opportunity.

That does, however, inevitably leave gaps in behind — and the home side exploited them ruthlessly early on.

An opener arrived in laughably easy fashion when Nicolas Jackson breezed past Jannik Vestergaard on the right flank before squaring for Cucurella to tap home.

And the Blues should have doubled their lead on at least two occasions prior to Palmer eventually doing so on the stroke of half-time.

Nicolas Jackson set up Marc Cucurella's opener
Nicolas Jackson set up Marc Cucurella's opener

Sterling's stinker

Raheem Sterling has struggled to fire since joining Chelsea and this error-strewn performance rather summed up his Stamford Bridge stint to date.

His woes began on 26 minutes when stepping up to take a penalty he had won himself, having been hacked down recklessly by Abdul Fatawu.

The 29-year-old has found the net just twice since November and that showed in a strike devoid of conviction, which was easily saved by Jakub Stolarczyk.

And though he did cross for Palmer to tap home Chelsea's second, his performance was punctuated by two further errors — sending a one-on-one wide and later producing a free-kick attempt more akin to a Six Nations conversion.

Substituted after 86 minutes, it was a day the England international will be desperate to forget.

Raheem Sterling was subbed off after a tough day at the office
Raheem Sterling was subbed off after a tough day at the office

Foxes fightback

Leicester looked dead and buried at the break but dragged themselves back into the tie thanks to a combination of luck and skill.

Their opener was a truly freak occurrence, with normally dependable Blues defender Disasi inexplicably bending a 35-yard backpass into his own unguarded goal.

There was no fluke about the second, though.

Former Arsenal youngster Mavididi produced a strike right out of the top drawer when leaving Malo Gusto for dead with quick feet before bending an unstoppable 20-yard bullet beyond Robert Sanchez.

It was the kind of spirit Maresca's men will need to show plenty of in the coming weeks as they look to secure an instant return to the top flight.

Chelsea dig deep

But having worked so hard to get back into the contest, Leicester defender Doyle was then dismissed with 15 minutes remaining for a foul on Jackson — leaving the hosts smelling blood.

The decisive blow came in second minute of stoppage time, with Chukwuemeka exchanging a sharp one-two with Palmer before calmy slotting home just his second Blues goal.

And Madueke's spectacular effort in the 98th minute added gloss to a crucial success for the under-fire Mauricio Pochettino.

Lifting the FA Cup could yet prove to be what keeps the Argentine in a job beyond summer.

Callum Doyle's red card proved fatal for Leicester
Callum Doyle's red card proved fatal for Leicester


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