Chelsea join Liverpool in the final after beating Crystal Palace

After Liverpool qualified on Saturday afternoon against Manchester City, the second semi-final of the 150th edition of the FA Cup saw Chelsea take on Crystal Palace, still on the same sunny Wembley lawn. The Blues, current European champions but eliminated in the last Champions League by Real Madrid, wanted to salvage their up-and-down end of the season with a National Cup final. For their part, the Eagles stagnated in the soft belly of the championship and had the opportunity to approach their first coronation in the history of the competition. To do this, Patrick Vieira trusted his compatriot Jean-Philippe Mateta to lead his attack alongside Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze. For his part, Thomas Tuchel put N’Golo Kanté on the bench, preferring him to Mateo Kovacic with Jorginho in midfield.

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Without seeming to have forgotten coming out of the Cup with big ears, the blues, dressed in yellow for the occasion, did not show great offensive intentions, if not aggressiveness in the last third. Injured during the match, Kovacic even had to leave his place on the field to Ruben Loftus-Cheek (26th). On the contrary, the men of the 1998 world champion did not hide and even took advantage of the best opportunity of the first half: at the entrance to the penalty area, Cheikhou Kouyaté made a low recovery, well deflected by Édouard Mendy, who distinguished himself with a second time after Joachim Andersen’s point-blank shot, finally signaled offside (36th). At the break, this London derby remained in a goalless draw.

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Returning from the locker room, the former Paris Saint-Germain manager left with the same eleven players, expecting an electric shock from them. Mason Mount tried to specify the reaction of his own but his shot went far from the goals of Jack Butland (49th). On the Palace side, Vieira brought in ex-Marseillais Jordan Ayew to keep up the pressure on the opposing defence, to no avail. But on another corner kick, Kouyaté could have fooled a motionless Mendy if his helmet shot hadn’t grazed his Blues right post (61st). Chelsea were successful after the hour mark: Kai Havertz’s low cross was repelled, the incoming Loftus-Cheek took the ball perfectly to fool the England goalkeeper, well aided by Andersen’s deflection (1-0.65e).

A far from undeserved start given the dominance of the game by the men in yellow, pushing Crystal Palace back in their last 30 metres. Seeing the Eagles come back up the field to score again, the Blues took advantage of the spaces at the back of their defense to unsettle the CPFC rearguard. It was finally against a low block that Mason Mount doubled the lead: eliminating Andersen thanks to his targeted control, the Englishman found Butland’s small left net to make the break (2-0, 76th). Going into the match, Lukaku was even able to seal the fate of the match but Timo Werner’s rebound into the cross hit the post, before the Palace defense countered Hakim Ziyech’s (90th) forehand rebound. The score did not move until the final whistle: Chelsea joined Liverpool in the final of this FA Cup, scheduled for May 14 in the same Wembley lair, in search of the 9th FA Cup in its history.

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