Chelsea edge past Al Hilal, reach Club World Cup final

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Chelsea beat Al Hilal 1-0 to reach the Club World Cup final against Palmeiras on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

[ MORE: How to watch Club World Cup final ]

Romelu Lukaku scored in the first half as the Blues dominated early on at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, but the European champions were pegged back in the second half and just about hung on.

Kepa Arrizabalaga made several top saves to keep out Al Hilal, the reigning Asian champions, as Chelsea held on to set up a showdown with South American champs Palmeiras in the final. Based on this showing, Chelsea will have to improve drastically against Palmeiras if they want to be crowned champions of the world.

The Club World Cup is the only trophy Chelsea haven’t won and this is the second final they’ve reached in their history, as they lost the other final to Corinthians in 2012.

Lukaku delivers crucial goal

Chelsea dominated early on but failed to take multiple chances.

However, Romelu Lukaku then made the most of some poor defending.

Kepa comes up big to send Chelsea to the final

With regular starter Edouard Mendy unavailable after he only just returned from the Africa Cup of Nations final — he saved a penalty and was one of the heroes in Senegal’s penalty shoutout win over Egypt — Kepa Arrizabalaga stood tall in goal.

The Spanish goalkeeper made two fine saves in the second half as Al Hilal improved drastically and took the game to the Premier League giants. Mason Mount, Malang Sarr and N’Golo Kante came off the bench for Chelsea, while USMNT star Christian Pulisic was an unused sub.

Kepa’s saves and some smart game-management allowed Chelsea to seal the win and reach Saturday’s final, as Al Hilal will face Egypt’s Al Ahly in the third-place game.