Blues have an United front
Written By: Robert Halter
Chelsea were aiming to continue their unbeaten run of twelve games against Manchester United in all competitions and record a club record of thirteen successive home wins at Stamford Bridge as the Blues and Red Devils clashed in the F.A. Cup quarter final during mid March. In the second minute from a Henrikh Mkhitaryan corner, the ball was put high over from a Marcos Rojo header. On twelve minutes following a long delivery by Paul Pogba, the ball was won back by Marcus Rashford, before a low strike from Mkhitaryan, was dragged wide of the right post. In the sixteenth minute, after collecting a pass from Gary Cahill, on the turn, Eden Hazard tested David De Gea, with a low strike that was palmed behind for a corner, that was swiftly taken by Willian, and from a lay off by Nemanja Matic, at close range, Cahill brought out another point blank save from the Red Devils shot stopper, De Gea. A minute later from another Willian corner, a right footed shot by Victor Moses, outside the area, went wide to the left. Then through another Willian corner, Diego Costa ballooned a header over the top of the upright. After barging into Hazard, Ander Herrera got the first yellow card of the game. Midway through the first half, a miss timed strike by Matic went high and wide to the left through an assist by Costa. On the half hour mark, after Matic won possession, Hazard charged through before thrashing a shot wide of the left upright. But on thirty five minutes, Herrera got his marching orders for a second booking, after pulling down Hazard with his out stretched leg, getting a red card from referee, Michael Oliver. Jose Mourinho then switched Mkhitaryan for Marouane Fellaini. It soon got heated on the touchline as rival managers, Antonio Conte and Mourinho clashed and hade to be separated by the fourth official, after Antonio Valencia had pushed over Marcos Alonso. In the fortieth minute, from an incisive pass by N’Golo Kante, the ball was driven over the upright by Moses. In the fiftieth minute, a miss firing Cesar Azpilicueta slashed the ball over, through a left sided pass by Willian. But it was the Blues that broke the deadlock a minute later, after Kante collected a pass from Willian, and from outside the box, Kante drove the ball past De Gea’s despairing dive, into the bottom left corner. On fifty six minutes, another wayward strike by Azpilicueta went over, from a ball through by Kante. Although on fifty nine minutes, from a Rojo assist, David Luiz missed the ball, and an alert Marcus Rashford charged through but was kept out by a strong stop from Thibaut Courtois. But the Blues responded with a ball across from Matic to Moses which was blocked by Matteo Darmian, who then intercepted Hazard’s shot, and from the resulting corner by Willian, a free header by Costa, went wide to the right. In the sixty second minute, through a pass by Kante, the ball was narrowly struck over the top right corner by Willian. Three minutes later, Hazard blazed over following an assist by Matic. In the seventy third minute, as Kante played in Willian, his rising strike on the right side of the area, was pushed over with both hands by De Gea. Soon to follow, Willian’s low cross was just too far over for the advancing Costa, in the centre of the box. The Blues later changed Willian with Cesc Fabregas while the Red Devils replaced Ashley Young with Jesse Lingard, who made an immediate impact, as Lingard won the ball over to Pogba, who pulled his shot past the right post. After Moses was unable to continue, Kurt Zouma was brought on. In stoppage time, Hazard’s long pass to Costa, found Fabregas, whose fierce strike required a reflex save by De Gea to keep the ball out. At the end, Costa went off for Michy Batshuayi as Chelsea booked their place in the F.A. Cup semi final at Wembley which saw the Blues drawn against London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.