Blues into FA Cup semi-final but Blades made them work extra hard for 2-0 victory
By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 2 v Sheffield United 0
FA Cup Quarter-Final
An own goal and a last-gasp second from substitute Hakim Ziyech saw off defiant Sheffield United 2-0 to put Chelsea into the semi-final of the FA Cup, but the Blues will have to play much better if they are going to have a chance of lifting the trophy.
This was a below par performance from the west Londoners, and if the away side showed an early penchant to attack, they could have reaped a surprise victory.
The Blues will learn their Wembley opponent latter this afternoon.
Chelsea struggled in the early part of the game to break down a resolute and aggressive Sheffield side and it’s didn’t get much better fro the remainder of the 90 minutes.
The relegation-haunted Blades sought to take advantage of the much-changed home side and if they took one of their chances, it could easily have been the Blades Wembley bound.
Veteran Phil Jagielka could get any pace on his header on 10 mi utes from the first corner of the game, and Kepa was equal to the task.
The Blues started tom finally get a grip on then game, sharper, faster passing meant they were getting closer to the visitors goal.
On 24 minutes after a period of Chelsea pressure the ball fell to Ben Chilwell, who took a shot from the edge of the Sheffield penalty area. He let fly with a low daisy-cutter, which took a wicked deflection off Oliver Norwood and zipped under goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to put them 1-0 up.
The Blades responded well to this setback, maintains their game plan of being aggressive and hoping for a break.
There were no changes by either side at half time.
Pulisic could have killed the tie off within seconds of the restart, when he weaved his way through three defenders before letting fly with a shot, but Ramsdale was at the near post to smother the goal-bound effort.
Hudson-Odoi was next to try his luck and after a good break by Pulisic, he fed the other wide man, who cut in from the right but send his left footer high and wide of the goal and onto row Z of the Matthew Harding Stand.
Thomas Tuchel decided that he needed to make changes as the away side started to make inroads into Chelsea’s last third of the pitch.
On came Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James, off came Olivier Giroud and Andrea Christensen - both on 63 minutes.
This allowed Azpilicueta to replace Christensen as a centre-back, with James taking a right-sided berth.
Hudson-Odoi operated as the striker, rotating with Mason Mount.
But the lack of height in the centre-back position was instantly exposed when David McGoldrick got behind Azpilicueta but sent his close-range header wide of goal - it was a golden chance for Sheffield to level the score.
Kepa was then called into action, parrying away a smart shot by Oliver McBurnie on 70 minutes as the Blades took control of the game.
To arrest this, Tuchel opted to bring on two more subs, off came Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour, they were replaced by Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz.
Kepa the parried another effort away after McGoldrick zipped past Azpilicueta on the byline as the away pressure increased.
Ends Stevens the powered a far post header into the side-netting with 12 minutes left on the clock.
Pulisic’s day ended on 82 minutes, with N’Golo Kante brought on to try and reestablish dominance in midfield.
Rhiannon Brewster then saw a powerful blaster inch past the post.
Ziyech score the second deep into added time, to make the score look respectable, when h3 blotted home from new the six-yard box.
Teams: Chelsea - Kepa, Christensen, Pulisic, Zouma, Kovacic, Giroud, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Chilwell, Gilmour, Emerson.
Subs: Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Kante, Werner, Ziyech, James, Azpilicueta, Havertz
Sheffield Utd: Ramsdale, Baldock, Jagielka, Stevens, Osborn, Bogle, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, McGoldrick, McBurnie
Subs: Mousset, Lowe, Burke, Foderingham, Brewster, Bryan, Brunt, Gordon, Ndiaye,
Referee: Andy Madley