Blues turn back the clocks on Spurs
Written By: Robert Halter
The last time Chelsea faced Tottenham Hotspur in a F.A. Cup semi final was 2012 and the Blues won 5-1, so roll the clock on five years for a repeat meeting at Wembley stadium in this stage of the competition. After a cynical foul on Pedro by Toby Alderweireld on four minutes, Willian bent a right footed free kick over the Spurs wall and into the bottom right corner, past the despairing dive of Hugo Lloris. On the quarter of the hour mark from a delivery by N’Golo Kante, it gave a free header to Michy Batshuayi, but he directed the ball straight into the reaches of Lloris, who dived to his left but the linesman’s flag was then raised and it would not have counted had Batshuayi scored. A minute later, Nathan Ake appended Harry Kane, and a quickly taken free kick by Christian Eriksen to Kane, deflected off Kante. But the Lilywhites got back on level terms in the eighteenth minute, when Eriksen combined with Kane once again, as a delivery by Eriksen on the right, was met with a low stooping header by Kane, past the despairing dive of Thibaut Courtois, into the bottom left corner. There was concern for the Blues as David Luiz went down injured after pulling up from a lunging challenge by Dele Alli, but Luiz was able to continue. In the thirty fourth minute, after Kieran Trippier was tugged by Marcos Alonso, from Eriksen’s free kick, Kante made a vital interception. But Spurs went close a minute later, when from Eriksen’s corner, Alderweireld directed a header out to the left from the centre of the box and following that, an in swinging ball over from Jan Vertonghen on the left, produced a reaction header by Eric Dier, that went fractions past the right post. In the fortieth minute, after Alli won the ball off Blues captain for the match, Cesar Azpilicueta, a snap shot by Erisken from outside the box was caught by Courtois. However, in the forty second minute, referee Martin Atkinson awarded Chelsea a penalty, after Heung-Min Son flew into Victor Moses, and Willian stepped up to drive the spot kick into the bottom left corner, sending Lloris the wrong way. After the second half resumed, Spurs drew the game for a second time, when from an over the top delivery by Eriksen, an alert Alli went down the middle of Luiz and Azpilicueta, to toe poke the ball into the top right corner from the centre of the box, in the fifty second minute. The Blues later made a double change with Batshuayi removed for Eden Hazard while Willian was replaced by Diego Costa. In the sixty third minute following a fast breakaway move by Alli, a header from the right side of the box by Eriksen, went close but wide to the right. Spurs later took off Son for Kyle Walker, before the Blues made another switch by bringing on Cesc Fabregas for Pedro, and it proved to be a master stroke, as directly from a Fabregas corner, a poor clearance by Walker, fell to Hazard outside the area, who drove the ball into the bottom right corner on seventy five minutes. Soon afterwards, Tottenham took off Victor Wanyama for Georges-Kevin Nkoudou. But Chelsea sealed victory in emphatic fashion, as Hazard linked up play with Fabregas, whose ball across to Nemanja Matic, was met with a left footed bending thunderbolt that crashed into the top right corner from outside the box, with just ten minutes of normal time left. Hazard created further havoc as he rounded Lloris and laid the ball back to Alonso, as the outstretched leg of Alderweireld prevented Chelsea adding to their 4-2 advantage. Another cross by Fabregas was put wide of the far post from a Costa header in an unmarked position in range of the target, on eight six minutes. In stoppage time, Mousa Dembele combined with Alli, before Eriksen drove the ball wide to the left. At the end, after Kante fouled Alli, a low free kick by Kane, went under the body of Courtois, before the ball spun back from the line to deny Tottenham Hotspur a consolation goal as Chelsea booked a return visit to the twin towers to contest the 2017 F.A. Cup Final on May 27.