An Eden Hazard penalty won the Emirates FA Cup for Chelsea as Antonio Conte’s side edged Manchester United 1-0 in the Final.
The decisive moment came in the 22nd minute when Hazard was brought down by Phil Jones. The Belgian converted the subsequent spot-kick to send the hoards of Blues fans into delirium.
Chelsea were second best for much of the contest after being forced to defend their lead, but the back three of Cesar Azpilicueta, captain Gary Cahill and man of the match Antonio Rudiger stood firm to help the Stamford Bridge outfit win The FA Cup for the eighth time.
- Emirates FA Cup Final
- Saturday 19 May 2018
- at Wembley Stadium
- Winning club to receive £1.8m
After a low-key start, a misplaced pass by Jones handed the Blues the game’s first opening as Hazard scampered clear and shot low at David de Gea’s near post, but the ball cannoned off the Spaniard’s outstretched leg.
Chelsea’s first shout for a spot-kick came when Tiemoue Bakayoko went to ground following contact by Nemanja Matic, though referee Michael Oliver was non-plussed.
The second appeal was far more clear-cut.
The increasingly influential Hazard was found by Cesc Fabregas and the would-be match-winner raced clear into the box. Hazard was just about to pull the trigger when Jones slid in and brought him down.
Chelsea’s No10 dusted himself down and sent de Gea the wrong way with a coolly-taken penalty.
It was the first penalty to be scored in an FA Cup Final, excluding shoot-outs, since Ruud van Nistelrooy's effort against Millwall in 2004.
Slowly, though, United crawled back into proceedings with Paul Pogba firing just wide from distance.
Jones was presented with an opportunity to atone for the concession of the penalty when Ashley Young bent a cross to the back post but the England defender’s header was off target.
As the game started to open up, Marcus Rashford had three chances to get his side back on equal terms; Rudiger blocked the first and Thibaut Courtois fisted away the next two.
United thought they had levelled when Alexis Sanchez prodded home a loose ball after Courtois had saved Jones’s header, but the Chilean was flagged for offside.
Then came Chelsea’s chance to put the game to bed when the impressive N’Golo Kante played in Marcus Alonso. The left wing-back took a touch onto his right foot and hit the ball straight at de Gea at his near post.
The ball fell to Moses, whose cut-back hit Young’s forearm but this penalty plea was dismissed.
And back came United, with Matic forcing Courtois to turn his long-ranger behind for a corner before Pogba headed another corner wide when unmarked from six yards out. The Reds’ final chance came in added time when Matic headed Valencia’s inviting cross over the bar.
The whistle sounded soon after, allowing Cahill to be presented with the Emirates FA Cup by Jackie Wilkins, wife of the late Ray Wilkins, Chelsea’s former assistant manager.
Chelsea (3-5-1-1): 13 Thibaut Courtois; 28 Cesar Azpilicueta, 24 Gary Cahill (capt), 2 Antonio Rudiger; 15 Victor Moses, 4 Cesc Fabregas, 7 N’Golo Kante, 14 Tiemoue Bakayoko, 3 Marcos Alonso; 10 Eden Hazard; 18 Olivier Giroud.
Substitutes: 9 Alvaro Morata for Giroud 89, 22 Willian for Hazard 90+1.
Substitutes not used: 1 Willy Caballero, 8 Ross Barkley, 11 Pedro, 21 Davide Zappacosta, 50 Trevoh Chalobah.
Goal: Hazard (pen) 22
Manager: Antonio Conte
Manchester United (4-3-3): 1 David de Gea; 25 Antonio Valencia (capt), 4 Phil Jones, 13 Chris Smalling, 18 Ashley Young; 21 Ander Herrera, 31 Nemanja Matic, 6 Paul Pogba; 19 Marcus Rashford, 7 Alexis Sanchez, 14 Jesse Lingard.
Substitutes: 9 Romelu Lukaku for Rashford 73, 11 Anthony Martial for Lingard 73, 8 Juan Mata for Jones 87.
Substitutes not used: 20 Sergio Romero, 3 Eric Bailly, 36 Matteo Darmian, 39 Scott McTominay.
Bookings: Jones, Valencia
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Referee: Michael Oliver