Chelsea won their 8th FA Cup on Saturday as they narrowly beat Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley courtesy an Eden Hazard penalty.
Chelsea started out the stronger of the two sides, with Eden Hazard creating the first meaningful chance of the game, shimmying past Phil Jones before forcing David De Gea into a save. It was the Belgian who threatened once again as a clever first touch saw him race past Jones, who would later bring him down inside the Manchester United box.
Michael Oliver rightly pointed to the spot, with Hazard making no error in finding the back of the net. Manchester United subsequently dominated possession, but rarely threatened Thibaut Courtois, who only had two make two saves of note – one to stop Marcus Rashford and the other to deny Jones.
FULL-TIME: CHELSEA 1-0 MAN UTD!!!
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 19, 2018
On the other end, Chelsea conjured up a chance as well, but Marcos Alonso couldn’t get the better of De Gea. In the end, Manchester United couldn’t get an equaliser as Chelsea held on for their 8th FA Cup triumph. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Antonio Conte’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 8/10
Manchester United barely threatened in the first half, but Courtois did well to command his box when the opposition had the ball around his area. Had to be alert in the second half as Jose Mourinho’s men looked for an equaliser, and he denied Marcus Rashford three times.
The third effort, in particular, was the most crucial as the young Englishman was one-on-one with him. Courtois also made an important save to thwart Phil Jones’s effort, and deserved the clean sheet in his first FA Cup game of the season.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 8/10
Chelsea’s vice-captain was in his elements on Saturday, reading the game superbly to make some crucial interceptions and blocks while letting little past him. The likes of Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez did not threaten him at all.
Anthony Martial did, to some extent, but Azpilicueta remained a figure of calmness in those moments, even blocking a late effort from the Frenchman to kill off all the sting in his shot.
Gary Cahill: 8/10
It may have been a season of struggle for Cahill, but the Chelsea captain ended the campaign on the best possible note. The defender organised his backline really well, getting his men into a solid defensive shape to give Manchester United very little room to work with. His distribution was on point as well, relieving pressure with pinpoint balls for the front men.
Antonio Rudiger: 9/10
A game that signals how well he has settled in the Chelsea backline, Rudiger was typically no-nonsense in his display on Saturday, not letting anyone come close to troubling Courtois in the Chelsea goal. Like Cahill, Rudiger distributed the ball superbly as well, finding the roaming Hazard with smart searching balls.
Man of the match in the final game of a superb debut season, he will undoubtedly be a key player for the Blues next season and further.
Victor Moses: 6/10
Another game in which Moses’s frailties at the back came to the fore. The Nigerian had his hands full with Ashley Young, who came up trumps in the duo’s personal battle. Can count himself lucky to not be booked on the day which perhaps gave him more of a license to tackle recklessly and halt the Manchester United momentum.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: 7/10
While Rudiger has enjoyed a fine debut campaign, Bakayoko has had his fair share of struggles. But, on Saturday, the Frenchman cut a confident figure and was up for the personal battle against Nemanja Matic.
He pressed aggressively to force the Manchester United midfielders into one extra pass, and showed the drive when moving forward. If he builds on from here, Bakayoko could become a major impact player for Chelsea next season.
Cesc Fabregas: 7/10
Fabregas finally has an FA Cup winner’s medal to replace the one he lost after winning the 2005 edition with Arsenal. And, the Spaniard surely enjoyed a fine game to savour the moment all the more. His floating ball towards Hazard forced Jones to misread the trajectory before conceding the penalty.
Once his side took the lead, Fabregas had to do a lot of defending; an unusual job for him, but he stuck to his task diligently while looking to make things happen whenever he got the ball.
N’Golo Kante: 9/10
Kante was typically tireless in his performance on Saturday, running all the time to control the midfield even as Manchester United enjoyed sustainable spells with the ball. His no-nonsense attitude saw him break up the opposition play effectively, winning six tackles in all.
Also advanced forward on a few occasions, and set up Marcos Alonso for a late chance, which the Spaniard should have buried. Easily the most clutch player in the Chelsea squad, one they should hold on to with all their might.
Marcos Alonso: 6/10
Alonso and Moses faced similar problems on their flanks, coming up second best against their respective full-backs. In Alonso’s case though, Valencia couldn’t make much of the successful dribbles that he made. The Spaniard also left a lot to be desired in the final third, making very little impact and spurning a glorious opportunity to put the game to bed.
Olivier Giroud: 6.5/10
Giroud rarely had a sight on goal on Saturday as Manchester United’s domination of the possession saw him do more defensive work than he would have liked. His movement did help create space for Hazard, and he took Chris Smalling out of the game when Mourinho’s men conceded the penalty.
The Frenchman was typically unassuming in aerial situations, coming up short just once when he slipped and allowed compatriot Paul Pogba a free header on goal, although he wouldn’t be punished for that error.
Eden Hazard: 9/10
Eden Hazard scores his 89th goal for Chelsea on his 300th appearance for the club across all competitions.
Cool as you like. ❄️ pic.twitter.com/jKeTdUG2Rl
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 19, 2018
Chelsea’s main man upfront was the difference maker yet again, troubling the Manchester United defenders whenever he got the ball. The early proceedings showed that Hazard was in his elements, dancing his way past Jones to force De Gea into a save. He would later get the better of the Englishman once again, and how.
A clever first touch from Fabregas’s floating ball took Jones out of the game as he raced past the defender with ease and forced him to make an unnecessary tackle out of desperation. The Belgian would then make no error to convert from the spot, calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net to win the FA Cup for Chelsea.