Eight-time Emirates FA Cup winners Chelsea secure their passageway to this year’s semi-finals, as they saw off managerless Sheffield United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Oliver Norwood’s own goal midway through the first half was the deciding moment in the last eight clash, as the midfielder diverted Ben Chilwell’s effort into his own net for the opening goal of the game.
Both sides had chances to get on the scoresheet throughout the match, with Aaron Ramsdale producing a number of saves to keep the deficit to just one goal, although the visitors will be disappointed not to have grabbed a goal after an impressive second-half showing.
David McGoldrick had a gilt-edged chance to level matters with 20 minutes to play, but the striker’s diving header missed the target, before Hakim Ziyech added a late second for Chelsea to see United exit the competition at the quarter-final stage for the second successive season.
The Blues came out with great intention in Sunday’s affair, with Thomas Tuchel’s side dominating possession in the early stages, with the Blades working as industriously as ever to keep them at bay.
But midway through the first half the hosts got the all-important breakthrough, as the ball fell to Ben Chilwell on the edge of the penalty area, who unleashed an effort on the volley.
And although the England international’s strike looked to be arrowing past the far post, lady luck seemed to be shining on the 2018 Emirates FA Cup winners, as Norwood stuck out a leg to divert the ball past a hapless Ramsdale in the visitors’ goal.
Norwood’s afternoon almost went from bad to worse just before the break, as the his blind pass was intercepted by Christian Pulisic, who started to bear down on goal, only for Ramsdale to smother the American playmaker as he tried to double the advantage.
The former Borussia Dortmund man continued his mission to try and find the second goal soon after the interval, as he slalomed through the Blades’ defence before firing an effort on goal, but once again the visiting shot stopper was equal to the opportunity.
Paul Heckingbottom continues to steer the ship for United since Chris Wilder’s departure, and the interim boss will have been agonising over McGoldrick’s miss midway through the second-half, as the striker’s diving header from five yards out sailed past the post.
The visitors came alive in the final quarter of the game, with Oli McBurnie having a long-range effort parried away by Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal, with the Premier League’s bottom side sensing an equaliser.
The pressure was relentless in the dying stages with Tuchel’s team clinging on at some points, with McGoldrick again wriggling free in the penalty area only for Kepa to keep him at bay again, before Rhian Brewster had a late effort flash into the side netting.
Ziyech pounced late on the break to add a second to seal the deal, as last season’s beaten finalist progress to the last four of this year’s competition.