Chelsea saw off the challenge of a battling Southampton side to reach the FA Cup final for the second year in succession.
Goals from Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata gave Antonio Conte’s men the 2-0 victory, with a final showdown against Manchester United and former Blues boss Jose Mourinho to come at Wembley next month.
After a somewhat dull first half with Willian striking the crossbar the only event of note, the game livened up considerably when, just 28 seconds after the restart, GIroud bobbed and weaved his way through the Southampton defence to put Chelsea 1-0 ahead. Morata, surprisingly relegated to the bench for the match, came on with ten minutes to play and doubled Chelsea’s lead with a header in one of his first contributions to the match.
the goals only tell half of the story, however, as Southampton had several chances to force their way back into the match. Shane Long missed a fine opportunity less than ten minutes into the half, while the Saints were very unlucky to see a foul given when it looked as though Charlie Austin had fairly won a tussle with Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero.
Austin struck the post soon after Morata’s goal, but the Blus held firm to book their place in May’s final.
Where last season gave Chelsea the chance to win the league and cup double, however, this season’s narrative is markedly different. In a frustrating campaign that will likely end with the side outside of the top four, the FA Cup final looks likely to be Conte’s last act as Chelsea manager before departing at the end of the campaign.
The cup represents the chance to depart on a high, and after the very public spat between Conte and Mourinho earlier in the season, there is likely nobody else the Italian would like to achieve that victory over.