Two second-half strikes fired Chelsea into the Emirates FA Cup Final with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek broke the deadlock with 25 minutes left to play, pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the box to lash the ball past Jack Butland before Mason Mount slotted home inside the box after being played through by Timo Werner ten minutes later.
The game had been an even affair for much of the game but Chelsea asserted their dominance after Loftus-Cheek’s opener to progress to their third FA Cup final in a row.
The first half lacked any clear-cut opportunities for either side as both struggled to establish any real rhythm or concerted periods of possession.
The opening 20 minutes were particularly scrappy as both sides cancelled each other out.
Palace had the best of limited chances in the first period, almost breaking away after half an hour but Wilfried Zaha couldn’t be found with the through ball.
The best chance of the half fell to Cheikhou Kouyate, who volleyed hard and low after the ball fell to him on the edge of the box only for Edouard Mendy to be equal to it low to his left.
Chelsea struggled to create anything in a frustrating 45 minutes for Thomas Tuchel’s side, Kai Havertz seeing yellow for simulation as he sought to win a penalty for his side.
The Blues came out much improved in the second half, however, with Werner causing problems in behind the Palace back line.
Palace continued to threaten despite Chelsea’s increasing dominance, Kouyate heading wide at the near post from a corner.
The breakthrough then finally came for Chelsea, as Loftus-Cheek slammed home from 20 yards.
Tyrick Mitchell lost the ball in his own half and Havertz drove into the box. His pass deflected into the path of Loftus-Cheek who struck first time past Butland.
Palace pushed to get back on level terms but were dealt a killer blow 15 minutes from time as Mason Mount doubled Chelsea’s lead.
A nice passing move from the Blues ended with Werner feeding an onrushing Mount, who broke into the box and poked past Butland.
Patrick Vieira’s men kept threatening, Joachim Andersen wasting a golden opportunity at the back post as he sent a header wide.
Chelsea almost added a third late on as Romelu Lukaku struck the post from Werner’s cross and Hakim Ziyech’s follow up was blocked on the line but the Blues will nevertheless return to Wembley in a month’s time to face Liverpool in the final.
Chelsea goalscorer Ruben Loftus-Cheek said: “It’s been a tough road, injuries and going on loan to find my form again but I always believed in myself and I always wanted to play for Chelsea, I’ve played quite a lot this season so I’m happy.
“[I was thinking] just hit it, get a good contact on it and I did that. I think it took a little deflection but I’ll take it. First goal at Wembley, brilliant noise. Brilliant, overjoyed.
“Everyone wants to play and I feel I’ve done well in the last couple of games and I wanted to keep the momentum but the strength in depth in the squad is fantastic. I have to be ready, Kova [Mateo Kovačić] is feeling his ankle so I had to be ready to step in.
"It looked a bit slow in the first half so I just wanted to bring some energy. The reason why I’m still here is because of my mentality through all the injuries and I just keep going and I still believe in myself. My time will come and I’ll keep knuckling down and working from it."
“We want to get them [Liverpool] back, it’s as simple as that. It was a fantastic game in the [League Cup] final, could’ve gone either way so we look forward to that and look forward to getting our revenge.”
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said: "I think the performance was very controlled, very serious, we took very good care about the counter-attacks before they could create counter-attacks as it's their biggest strength.
"If you concede a goal 1-0 from a set-piece and then you cannot score, you maybe have the feeling 'did we invest enough?' - it's very hard to invest because the opponents prepared, played a new system, changed system twice - so very very hard and you cannot lose focus for one second.
"He [Ruben Loftus-Cheek] was very strong in the matches against Southampton and Madrid, he would have deserved to start but we expected a back four and more a classic wing-back position and wanted to have Azpi as a captain on the field.
"We knew we had Ruben as an impact on the bench and I'm very happy with him.
"I think he hid his talent and potential on the field for a long time in his career, he is capable of producing performances that everybody sees that he's on the pitch but he also is able to produce performances where he hides his quality.
"I'm happy to be part of it again. I cannot be more excited, it's a huge competition, to play again at Wembley, third at Wembley, second FA Cup final, is incredible and I'm very grateful. We will be ready."