Chelsea manager Antonio Conte picked Olivier Giroud ahead of Alvaro Morata for Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final – and the Frenchman fully justified the decision.
After a dull first half against Southampton at Wembley, the game came roaring into the life as Chelsea took the lead with just 28 seconds gone in the second. Giroud, having scored twice in last weekend’s comeback victory over the Saints, punished them once again with a brilliant bit of solo play.
Collecting the ball in the box from Eden Hazard, Giroud twisted and turned his way through the Southampton defence, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake before rounding goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and slotting into an empty net.
Giroud just turned into Messi…sort of.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 22, 2018
My goodness, Giroud…. some footwork…
— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) April 22, 2018
GOAL!! Oh my! A gorgeous goal from a gorgeous man. Giroud puts Chelsea into the lead just seconds after the restart.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) April 22, 2018
Eden Hazard came close to adding a second just moments later, while Southampton have since shouted for a penalty when Cesc Fabregas brought Shane Long down in the box. Indeed, the Irish international wasted a fine opportunity to level it up ten minutes after the restart; played clean through on goal, Long was caught in two minds and instead of dinking it over Willy Caballero or rounding the keeper, his heavy first touch meant he could do neither.
1-0 to Chelsea at the time of writing, with the winner facing Manchester United in next month’s final.