Goals from Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata ensured that Chelsea secured a place in the FA Cup final at the expense of a hapless Southampton.
The Blues booked their place in the final against Manchester United after a superb performance against Southampton at Wembley. Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud and even Alvaro Morata brought their very best to the table as Conte’s men cruised past the Saints.
After a fairly entertaining first half, Chelsea were off to the flying start after the break after Olivier Giroud gave his side the lead in the 46th minute, thanks to some magical footwork. Chelsea continued to dominate proceedings, with Southampton being allowed the occasional foray forward.
Shane Long squandered his side’s best chance of the game and Southampton were denied a goal after Martin Atkinson adjudged that Willy Caballero was fouled in the box. Alvaro Morata was then brought on with 10 minutes to spare and almost immediately doubled his side’s lead after getting on the end of Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross field pass, sending Conte’s men to their second FA Cup final in as many seasons.
Willy Caballero: 7/10
The Argentine was perhaps lucky that the Saints had a goal ruled out because of a supposed foul, after he fumbled his ball into his own net. Did well to keep out Nathan Redmond and besides that, he had little to do the entire game.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7.5/10
Took his assists tally to 7 for the season, all of them for his compatriot Alvaro Morata. He wasn’t too troubled in defence, but did well to handle whatever came his way and ensured that Southampton would have no luck on his flank.
Gary Cahill: 8/10
It is too early to say whether he is back to his very best, but he certainly seems to be getting there. Another superb, assured performance from the captain in the middle of defence. Was fantastic in the air and dealt with Shane Long and Charlie Austin well.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
Was caught sleeping when Shane Long was put through on goal, but the Englishman’s bad touch let Rudiger off the hook. That was his only fault and the rest of the afternoon was spent keeping Southampton out on the few occasions they actually got to Chelsea’s 18-yard box.
Victor Moses: 6.5/10
Didn’t have too much luck going forward against ex-Chelsea boy Ryan Bertrand, but defended his flank well enough alongside Cesar Azpilicueta.
Cesc Fabregas: 7/10
Helped set up the first goal with a nice ball to Eden Hazard. Distributed well and linked up with his teammates wonderfully. Kept things moving in the middle of the park, but worked hard off the ball and did his defensive duties well. He was ultimately subbed off in the 76th minute.
N’Golo Kante: 9/10
Arguably Chelsea’s best performer on the afternoon. The Frenchman was superb once again in the middle of the park. Kept putting pressure on Southampton and was instrumental in ensuring that Chelsea enjoyed lion’s share of possession. His ever improving ability on the ball was on full display and the best part of his game was a little feint, which left two Southampton players dumbfounded. World class.
Emerson Palmieri: 6.5/1-
Started his second game within 72 hours for the Blues and put in yet another decent shift on the left flank. Didn’t have too much luck going forward and wasn’t able to combine with Hazard well enough, but that understanding will obviously need some more time. Defended little, but well.
Was having a good game going forward, but was unceremoniously taken off in the 64th minute. Got really close to scoring, but was denied by the post. Made some great counter attacking runs through the Southampton defence and was linking up well with his teammates. Was having a really promising game before being taken off.
Olivier Giroud: 9/10
22 – Olivier Giroud has had a hand in 22 goals in his 26 FA Cup appearances (15 goals, 7 assists), more than any other player in the competition since his debut in January 2013. Dancing. pic.twitter.com/CiB4xUSZLZ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 22, 2018
The Frenchman continued his rich vein of form by opening the scoring for the Blues in the 46th minute. It wasn’t the kind of goal we’re used to seeing from the former Arsenal man, where he evaded 3 Southampton players in the 18 yard box to poke home past a helpless McCarthy. Stunning.
Aside from the goal, he cut a confident figure upfront, taking on Southampton players, holding up the ball and drawing them away from Eden Hazard. Has now surely established himself as the first-choice striker at the club. Taken off in the 80th minute to avoid aggravating a possible injury.
Eden Hazard: 9/10
Eden Hazard’s game by numbers vs. Southampton:
5 chances created
4 fouls won
Even whipping out the rabona. 💫 pic.twitter.com/6rRoeLG1qX
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 22, 2018
The Belgian was at his very best once again on the night. His assist for Olivier Giroud’s goal may have give him an edge over N’golo Kante for the Man of The Match award. Caused havoc in the Southampton defence and ran them ragged the entire afternoon.
Linked up very well with his teammates and completed an astounding 9 take-ons. Created numerous chances for his teammates; so much so that the Saints could barely contain him. His performance really deserved a goal. Thankfully for Chelsea, he finally seems to be getting back to his best form during the business end of the season.
Alvaro Morata: 7/10
Brought on for Giroud, he could have had a hattrick, but the Spaniard will gladly settle for what he got. After his dreadful showing in front of goal in the Blues’ last game, this goal was desperately needed for his confidence. Made some good runs and got into some good positions.
Still seems to have trouble scoring with his feet though, but that’s okay given his ability in the air. His superb header helped seal victory for the Blues in the 82nd minute and that will undoubtedly give Conte a selection headache for their next game.
The Spaniard was brought on the 76th minute for Fabregas, to add a bit more pace to the Chelsea attack. Was a bundle of energy and kept pressure on the Southampton defence, linked up well with his teammates and made some good runs into space.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: 6/10
Came on for Willian in the 64th minute in what was a rather surprising move. The idea was to add some more defensive solidity and protect the 1-0 lead that the Blues had. The Frenchman did reasonably well alongside Kante, was good in the air and helped put pressure on Southampton’s midfield when they were in possession.