Reece James and Ruben Loftus-Cheek impressed as Chelsea secured a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace to progress to the finals of the 2021/22 FA Cup.
The first half was a cagey affair at Wembley as neither Chelsea nor Crystal Palace could create many clear cut chances. The first big opportunity of the evening fell to the Eagles as Cheikhou Kouyate forced Edouard Mendy into a save. At the other end, Kai Havertz earned himself a booking for a dive on the rare occasion that the Blues got forward before half-time arrived.
The first notable chance of the second period also went Palace’s way, with Kouyate rising high to meet a cross from Eberechi Eze. However, he could not direct his header on target. Chelsea capitalised on the miss, as captain Cesar Azpilicueta stole the ball from an opponent to set Havertz on his way. He then found substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who buried home the opener via a deflection.
Chelsea were two goals ahead in the 76th minute when Mason Mount tucked the ball into the back of the net after being played in by Timo Werner. Crystal Palace threatened to make a comeback soon after but Joachim Andersen failed to take his chance. The Blues could have made it 3-0 late in the game but substitute Romelu Lukaku missed a sitter, firing his effort onto the post.
Nevertheless, Chelsea held on for the win, reaching their sixth final under Thomas Tuchel since he took over in January last year. The Blues will now face Liverpool in a replay of the Carabao Cup final earlier this year after the Reds defeated Manchester City on Saturday. Here are our player ratings for both sets of stars after a tightly-contested encounter at Wembley on Sunday.
Chelsea Player Ratings
Edouard Mendy: 7/10
The Senegalese international made a good save to deny his compatriot Kouyate in the first half. He was not tested much from that point onwards, although he showed good command in the box to deal with crosses.
Reece James: 8/10
Deployed as the right-sided centre-back again, the Chelsea academy graduate put in another fine display as he made sure Wilfried Zaha did not have much joy on his flank. While it limited his attacking contributions, James did step into the midfield every now and then to help build-up play. Solid and assured from the 22-year-old.
Another final ✔️Happy Easter 🐣💛 pic.twitter.com/Ue33ErvleH
— Reece James (@reecejames_24) April 17, 2022
Andreas Christensen: 7.5/10
A strong return to the starting XI for the Dane, who came into the team in place of Thiago Silva. Like James, Christensen was assured at the back and made several key interventions to cut out Palace attacks in the first period. He had one iffy moment in his penalty box, but James was at hand to help him out. The centre-back was also calm and composed with the ball at his feet.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
The German ace was not called into action a great deal in the first period, with most of Palace’s attacks coming from the opposite flank. However, he was alert when needed and was his usual self when on the ball, trying to push forward and take an aim at the goal.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6.5/10
Starting at right wing-back, the Chelsea skipper did not give much away on the defensive side of things and was solid. But he failed to offer much in the attacking sense. He had a chance to score in the first period but fluffed his lines. But Azpilicueta did well to win the ball leading to the opening goal.
Jorginho’s form, except for the occasional nice assist these days, has really dropped off. Seems his eventful 2021 caught up with him.
— Alex Goldberg (@AlexGoldberg_) April 17, 2022
The Italian international replaced N’Golo Kante in the starting XI on Sunday but failed to do much of note against a disciplined Crystal Palace side. Jorginho was sloppy in possession on the evening and almost gifted Palace a chance in the first half. He also tended to slow down the game and was not penetrative enough with his passing. He showed improvements in the second period, though, and had a hand in the first goal.
Mateo Kovacic: N/A
The former Real Madrid man picked up an early injury, and even though he tried to play through the pain, he lasted for a little more than 20 minutes before being taken off.
Marcos Alonso: 6/10
The left wing-back was defensively secure and did not let much get past him when Palace did try to push forward on his side. However, he could not impact the proceedings in the attacking sense as he does usually.
Mason Mount: 7/10
That first touch from Mason Mount to set up his goal was so good. He really has phenomenal instincts when he’s in tight spaces in & around the box. pic.twitter.com/T87t1E4ubb
— Alex Goldberg (@AlexGoldberg_) April 17, 2022
The Chelsea academy ace had a largely quiet game as he failed to test the opposition goalkeeper while he was also bullied by Kouyate leading to his goal attempt in the second period. But when his moment came, Mount made no mistake, as he linked up with Werner before netting to make it 2-0. He has now four goals in his last three appearances in all competitions.
Kai Havertz: 6/10
The German international had a fairly quiet half during which the standout moment was his blatant dive on the edge of the box for which he was deservedly booked. Havertz did well to get the assist for Loftus-Cheek’s opener.
Timo Werner: 7/10
Retained in the lineup, Werner looked bright, making sharp runs in behind the defence, although Chelsea were unable to find him. The German international then set Mount up for the second goal of the game and should have had another assist late on, but Lukaku missed a sitter.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 8/10
Ruben Loftus-Cheek's three year wait for a goal is over 😍 pic.twitter.com/nVRqoYpPRz
— GOAL (@goal) April 17, 2022
Unlucky to have missed out on the starting XI, Loftus-Cheek came on in the first half for the injured Kovacic. Up against his former loan club, the midfielder drove forward at pace with intent, which put Palace on the back foot before he opened the scoring with a smashing effort in the 65th minute. Growing in confidence.
Hakim Ziyech: N/A
On for Mount with less than 15 minutes, drew a save from Jack Butland.
N’Golo Kante: N/A
Replaced Jorginho and helped the team see out the game.
Romelu Lukaku: N/A
Lukaku came on for Havertz in the 77th minute. Hit the post from just six yards out.
Thiago Silva: N/A
On for Christensen in the 82nd minute. He helped Chelsea get over the line.
Crystal Palace Player Ratings
Jack Butland: 5.5/10
The Crystal Palace goalkeeper was largely untroubled in the first half. He did well to rush out of his line and stop Werner from taking a shot early in the first half. He could do little about either Chelsea goal.
Cheikhou Kouyate: 6/10
Kouyate goes close from a corner. He should have possibly scored. Not a good effort.
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) April 17, 2022
Starting as a right-sided centre-back for Palace, the veteran star looked at home in a relatively unfamiliar position for him. At the same time, Kouyate was not shy about pushing forward every now and then. He had the best chance in the first half but saw his effort saved by Mendy. The Senegalese ace then sent a header wide off the mark in the second half.
Joachim Andersen: 6/10
The Dane looked good at the middle of the back three for Crystal Palace, making some important interventions in the second half, although he could have done better to thwart Mount’s goal. However, he had a great chance to drag his team back into the game but failed to make it count.
Marc Guehi: 6.5/10
The former Chelsea defender was fired up to face his boyhood club and kept things in check at the back. Guehi was a force in the air and dealt well with whatever came his way for the most part. However, he could not stop Havertz’s cutback from reaching Loftus-Cheek for the opening goal.
Joel Ward: 6/10
Slotting in at right wing-back, Ward was a reliable defensive presence for Crystal Palace, keeping Alonso quiet for the most part. However, he could not offer much in the way of attacking impetus.
Eberechi Eze: 6/10
The former QPR starlet looked likely to make things happen for Crystal Palace on occasions and created both chances for Kouyate. However, overall, it was a largely quiet display from Eze as he could have been more progressive with his passing when on the ball.
James McArthur: 6.5/10
What a half from James McArthur. Composed and driven. Can’t believe he’s still so reliable while turning 35 this year. pic.twitter.com/hFnUZ8WMhW
— Matchday365 (@Matchday365) April 17, 2022
A solid display from the veteran midfielder who shielded the defence well, making some vital interceptions and looked to press the Chelsea players when not in possession. He also took good care of the ball when Palace were in possession.
Jeffrey Schlupp: 6.5/10
A tireless display from Schlupp who supported McArthur well in the middle of the park and tried to drive the team forward from the centre of the park. His passing could have been a tad better on occasions during the attacking phases.
Jean-Philippe Mateta: 5/10
A largely disappointing display from the in-form striker who was kept under wraps by the Chelsea defence fairly easily. Mateta hardly threatened the Blues’ goal on the day, although he did not always get the kind of service he thrives on. His efforts off the ball were lacking though.
Wilfried Zaha: 5/10
Gods will 🙏🏿 really wanted it for our club and amazing fans but wasn’t meant to be sadly but as usually thank you for the unmatched support we appreciate the CPFC family ❤️💙 sorry for not clapping the fans as my emotions got the best of me pic.twitter.com/KSSX3ewXVt
— Wilfried Zaha (@wilfriedzaha) April 17, 2022
The Ivorian was Palace’s main man in attack but failed to live up to the expectations as he was well-managed by Reece James. Apart from an early cross for Mateta and a couple of runs in the second period Zaha had a largely quiet game and failed to make the kind of impact expected of him.
Jordan Ayew: 5/10
Ayew replaced Mateta in the 54th minute. Did not do much of note, although he helped create the late chance for Andersen.
Christian Benteke: 5/10
On for Schlupp with less than 20 minutes left but could not turn the tide in his team’s favour.
Michael Olise: 5/10
Olise Came on to replace McArthur in the 72nd minute to add some spark in attack.
Luka Milivojevic: N/A
Late substitute for Kouyate.