Whoever was not taking Thomas Tuchel will have stood to attention on Saturday evening when Chelsea beat runaway favourites, Manchester City 1-0 in the first FA Cup semi-final.
The Blues are now through to a second consecutive final and have dashed City’s dream of a quadruple of titles in the 2020/21 season.
Hakim Ziyech got the only goal of the first semi-final clash as Tuchel’s side played well and frustrated City in large parts to progress into their fourth FA Cup final in the last five seasons and a 15th time overall that Chelsea will go as far as the FA Cup final.
City started the first half very well, pushing Chelsea back and forcing quick turnovers but by the fifth minute, Chelsea settled into a passing game that evaded the City press.
N’Golo Kante and Jorginho were prominent in linking play. Ben Chilwell could have done better in the 19th minute off a floated cross from Reece James. Chilwell had more time than he knew and could have taken a touch.
James got off a shot on 34 minutes and a minute later was booked for a foul on Fernandinho. In the 47th minute, Kevin de Bruyne came off worse in a clash with Kante and had to be replaced by Phil Foden.
The Blues got the breakthrough 10 minutes into the second half when Timo Werner, on a breakaway laid a well-tailored pass to Ziyech.
The all-important goal was a carbon copy of a disallowed effort early on in the first half as Werner raced down the left and found Ziyech in the middle to stroke home. This was Ziyech’s second FA goal.
City goalkeeper, Zack Steffen, will blame himself he was largely indecisive, coming out, then retreating which made Werner’s mind up for him.
Guardiola sent on Ilkay Gundogan for Ferran Torres in the 64th minute as the Cityzens chased an equaliser. Tuchel also made changes on 70 minutes with Christian Pulisic on for Mason Mount. Nine minutes later, Kai Haveertz and Emerson came on for Werner and Ziyech.
Even with five minutes of added time, Chelsea kept Kepa Arrizabalaga well protected. For Guardiola’s men, the focus shifts to the Premier League title is all but wrapped up, next weekend’s Carabao Cup final against Tottenham and also the Champions League semi-finals, where they will face PSG.
Though Man City had won four of their last five FA Cup ties against Chelsea, including a 2-1 win at this stage in 2013, they could not get it right against the Blues on Saturday at Wembley. Thomas Tuchel will be happy for finally getting one over Guardiola having lost his previous five games against the Spanish manager.
Chelsea will now wait for who their opponent will be in the final as Leicester City and Southampton slug it out in the other semi-finals on Sunday.
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