The final score looked like a blowout however this sucker was close until the Blues scored two late goals in a five-minute span, 75-80th minutes, to break a two all tie to put this puppy to bed for good.
Chelsea wins over Tottenham 4-2 to advance to the FA Cup final
It was in the end. “Turn out the lights the party’s over.”
The Guardians Paul Wilson wrote: “The Wembley misery for Tottenham goes on. Not only were Mauricio Pochettino’s team well beaten by what appeared to be a weakened Chelsea side, their hopes of striking a psychological blow against their title rivals were dealt a blow when Antonio Conte came up with some blue sky thinking of his own, saving the best until last to put a strong Spurs performance into unflattering perspective.
Tottenham have still not been in an FA Cup final since Paul Gascoigne was running around injuring himself against Nottingham Forest in 1991 and they have now failed at the semi-final stage on seven consecutive occasions. Chelsea last won the Cup in 2012 and Conte now has a chance to mark his first season in England by winning the Double. It would be foolish to write him off, for though his selection policy might have been deemed risky, it ended up underlining the strength at his disposal.
All the pre-match conversation had centred on Chelsea’s eccentric starting line-up with Eden Hazard and Diego Costa named on the bench for one of the biggest matches of the season. Traditionally, an FA Cup semi-final is regarded as one of the most significant games of the season anyway and in Premier League terms this one pitted first in the table against second. It is true that Sir Alex Ferguson watered down his Manchester United team for a Wembley semi-final against Everton eight years ago, but he was worried about an upcoming Champions League appointment, not a home game against Southampton on Tuesday. If Conte is really that concerned about the tightening situation at the top of the league he could hardly have sent out a stronger message of encouragement to Pochettino and his chasing team.
Or so it seemed before kickoff. Once the game got underway the Chelsea changes had an almost instantaneous positive effect. Michy Batshuayi is still waiting for his first league start this season but the first time he received the ball in an attacking position a clever flick and feint was all he needed to send Pedro racing towards goal. Toby Alderweireld just about managed to get across in time to cover but only succeeded in bringing the Spaniard down with a scything tackle on the edge of the area. The defender went into the book with barely four minutes on the clock and to make matters even worse Willian scored directly from the free-kick, bending a shot around the wall to catch out Hugo Lloris.
With Chelsea continuing to dominate, Batshuayi brought a save by Lloris from a N’Golo Kanté cross, finding himself free in front of goal but unable to quite summon enough power on the header to trouble the goalkeeper.
The header from Harry Kane that brought Spurs back level in the 18th minute was hardly the most forceful Wembley has ever seen either, though whether by accident or design he managed to put the ball in exactly the right place when he stooped low to meet Christian Eriksen’s cross with an improvised finish.
David Luiz needed treatment after Dele Alli trod on his ankle while looking in the opposite direction, the Spurs player receiving the benefit of the doubt and going unpunished by the referee, Martin Atkinson.
Spurs seemed to have recovered from their early nerves by the half-hour mark, and Eric Dier was close to putting then ahead from a Jan Vertonghen cross as the Chelsea chances began to dry up. A well-timed challenge from David Luiz was needed to prevent Alli running clear from Kane’s nudge forward, then an Eriksen shot was comfortably held by Thibaut Courtois when it appeared the goalkeeper might be caught off his line.
Just when Conte must have been weighing up the pros and cons of putting his strongest team out for the second half, Chelsea unexpectedly regained the lead. There seemed little danger when Kanté fanned the ball out for Victor Moses to cross from the right, but as he entered the penalty area the wing-back took an extra touch that left Son Heung-min exposed and already committed to a sliding tackle. Son protested his innocence, but it was a poor challenge to make in the area and once Moses had fallen over an outstretched leg Willian scored his second of the afternoon from the penalty spot.
Spurs were thus obliged to climb back into the game again and it took them only seven minutes of the second half to manage it. The influential Eriksen hoisted a diagonal ball forward that David Luiz thought he had covered until Alli nipped in ahead of him to beat Courtois with a masterly first-time finish, taking only one touch but sending a left-foot half-volley high into the net.
The game was a full-blooded contest now, and when Willian saw a shot blocked at one end, Alli charged into the box at the other to win a corner.
When Costa and Hazard made their entrances after just over an hour in what appeared a pre-planned strategy, nothing happened for the best part of a quarter of an hour. Chelsea continued to look sluggish and reluctant to take the game to Spurs with only Moses willing to break out of his own half, though one of his runs produced the corner from which their third goal arrived. Cesc Fàbregas crossed but did not find David Luiz, Spurs failed to clear and the ball ran through to Hazard on the edge of the area who drilled a low shot into Lloris’s bottom corner.
As if making up for lost time Hazard was also involved in the show-stopping finish five minutes later, carrying the ball across the area and meeting little resistance before rolling a pass back for Nemanja Matic to score with a thumping drive.
One could only feel sorry for Spurs by then, they hardly deserved to be on the end of a 4-2 mauling, yet Chelsea not only seem to be writing their own rules but coming up with some completely new scripts.