Hakim Ziyech’s second-half strike ended Manchester City’s hopes of a quadruple trophy-winning season and propelled Chelsea into the Emirates FA Cup Final at Wembley.
Thomas Tuchel’s Blues were the better side throughout and it was Moroccan ace Ziyech who proved the match-winner just before the hour mark after good work from Timo Werner.
Pep Guardiola’s Premier League table-toppers still harboured hopes of a historic league, Emirates FA Cup, Champions League and Carabao Cup clean sweep but were downed in a cagey contest in the capital.
- 2020-21 Emirates FA Cup
- Saturday 17 April
Chelsea came flying out of the blocks and required just five minutes to put the ball in the back of the City net.
Werner crossed for Ziyech to slot home but his strike was ruled out after Werner – chasing his first goal since February – had drifted offside in the build-up.
Chelsea fizzed the ball around brightly throughout the opening stages but it was Gabriel Jesus who first tested either goalkeeper when he curled straight at Kepa Arrizabalaga from distance.
The game’s first real opportunity fell to Ben Chilwell but the left-back miscued his volley after a deft chip into the box by Chelsea and England teammate Reece James.
And Chilwell was once again in the thick of the action just after when his low cross – after strong work from the in-form Mason Mount – was diverted away by the City defence.
Chelsea continued to threaten throughout the opening period and when Werner got in behind Aymeric Laporte, it took a well-timed block by the Frenchman to thwart the danger.
City did grow into the contest as the first half progressed, however, with the talismanic Kevin De Bruyne - who limped off with an injury at the beginning of the second half - becoming growingly influential and winning a corner just before half-time.
And a Fernandinho header from a Raheem Sterling cross then drifted wide as the teams went into the break level.
Chelsea started the second half with the same fast tempo as the first and took the lead just before the hour mark.
Werner and Ziyech combined in similar fashion to the disallowed goal – but the German stayed onside this time to cross low for the former Ajax man, who calmly swept the ball into Zack Steffen’s net.
FT. COME ON!!! 💙 WE'RE IN THE FA CUP FINAL!!! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/lA0xCYV19H— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 17, 2021
The livewire 28-year-old could have made it two just moments later but after being put through by Chilwell’s long pass, was denied by a fine last-ditch save from City No.2 Steffen.
City rallied to keep their quadruple hopes live and almost levelled on 70 minutes – but Ruben Dias was unable to steer his flicked header towards goal.
Chelsea remained a firm threat on the counter-attack and it took another save from Steffen to deny a goal-hungry Werner.
Substitute Christian Pulisic had a goal disallowed for offside in stoppage-time before a parried save from Kepa kept out Rodri's header.
And the eight-time champions held on to ensure Tuchel became the first German manager to reach an Emirates FA Cup final - and dash Guardiola’s hopes of that City quadruple.
Chelsea match-winner Hakim Ziyech said: "I think everybody is happy. We did a good job - especially in the first half. The second half was a little bit difficult but we scored the one goal that we needed, and that was enough.
"You always have to have the feeling before the game that you want to score, and Timo saw my run, put in a good delivery and I just put it in easily.
"I still have a lot to work on but I think I'm in a good way. Of course [it can still be a special end to the season] - if you see what we're still playing for, it's all open. Everybody's excited about it and we can't wait to play those games."
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said: "It was a very, very strong performance. I'm very happy and very proud - we played an excellent 35 minutes in the first half.
"We had to suffer ten minutes of some easy ball losses and the quality from City, but we played another half an hour so strongly. We deserved to win and it could have been one goal higher.
"The last 15 minutes we suffered a lot because they played with a lot of risk and many offensive players, and we were becoming a bit tired. But it was a very strong performance and I'm very happy for my team.
"I'm very proud that they performed at this level like this today. We wanted to enjoy the extra competition that we have - we know we're in the Champions League semi-final and the race for the top four, so we took this as an opportunity to show up on the highest level and see where we are. We did, and it was a very, very good game."
Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho said: "We wanted to win the game to go through to the final. We started the game a little bit slow in the first half, but after we found the track we took control of the game.
"Unfortunately, we were unable to find the net and score the goals, but of course the semi-finals of the FA Cup are always tight and decided on the details. They were better, they scored a goal. We tried to fight until the end of he game but we couldn't score any goals.
"Congratulations to them, but we have to refocus on the Premier League now and continue our path until the end of the season."
Chelsea (3-4-3): 1 Kepa Arrizabalaga; 28 Cesar Azpilicueta, 6 Thiago Silva, 2 Antonio Rudiger; 24 Reece James, 7 N’golo Kante, 5 Jorginho, 21 Ben Chilwell; 22 Hakim Ziyech, 11 Timo Werner, 19 Mason Mount
Substitutes: 10 Christian Pulisic for Mount 70’, 33 Emerson for Ziyech 77’, 29 Kai Havertz for Werner 77’, 15 Kurt Zouma for Silva 88’
Substitutes not used: 3 Marcos Alonso, 13 Willy Caballero, 18 Olivier Giroud, 20 Callum Hudson-Odoi, 23 Billy Gilmour
Goals: Ziyech 55’
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): 13 Zack Steffen; 27 Joao Cancelo, 14 Aymeric Laporte, 3 Ruben Dias, 22 Benjamin Mendy; 25 Fernandinho, 16 Rodri; 21 Ferran Torres, 17 Kevin De Bruyne, 7 Raheem Sterling; 9 Gabriel Jesus
Substitutes: 47 Phil Foden for De Bruyne 48’, 8 Ilkay Gundogan for Torres 64’
Substitutes not used: 2 Kyle Walker, 5 John Stones, 6 Nathan Ake, 11 Oleksandr Zinchenko, 20 Bernardo Silva, 27 Riyad Mahrez, 31 Ederson