For Crystal Palace, Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal exit at Wembley to Chelsea will carry an annoying amount of “What ifs?” but also plenty of hopeful signs that Patrick Vieira has the good ship Palace pointed in the right direction despite a 2-0 loss to the Blues.
For Chelsea, there will be no such ruminations. This is survive and advance, and the FA Cup is Chelsea’s last chance to seal season silverware.
Blues midfielders Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount scored second-half goals after the Eagles missed several glorious chances to take leads on a day they weren’t allowed to use one of the season’s top performers: Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher.
The damage was down in an 11-minute stretch midway through the half and followed a first frame that saw Chelsea hold 65 percent of the ball but manage just a single shot on target (not one fraught with danger, at that).
But Palace’s strength through the middle, with James McArthur, Cheikhou Kouyate, and Marc Guehi starring for the Eagles, did not result in finish up front. And ex-Palace loanee Loftus-Cheek, only in the game because of an injury to Mateo Kovacic, took a deflected cross and hit a shot that took a turn of its own to beat Jack Butland.
Mount would then find his angle on a side-footed effort to make it 2-0 and that was, essentially, all they wrote. Chelsea will meet Liverpool come May 14 at Wembley Stadium.
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace final score, stats
Chelsea 2, Crystal Palace 0
Scorers: Loftus-Cheek (65′), Mount (76′)
Shot attempts: Chelsea 9, Crystal Palace 5
Shots on goal: Chelsea 3, Crystal Palace 1
Possession: Chelsea 68, Crystal Palace 32
Chelsea player ratings
Mendy (8), Rudiger (8), Christensen (7), James (7.5), Alonso (7), Kovacic (6.5), Jorginho (7), Azpilicueta (7.5), Mount (7.5), Werner (7), Havertz (5.5). Subs: Loftus-Cheek (8), Kante (7), Ziyech (N/A), Lukaku (N/A), Silva (N/A)
Crystal Palace player ratings
Butland (6.5), Mitchell (6.5), Guehi (8), Andersen (6.5), Ward (6), Schlupp (7), McArthur (8), Kouyate (7.5), Zaha (6.5), Mateta (6), Eze (7). Subs: Ayew (7), Benteke (N/A), Olise (7), Milivojevic (N/A)Follow @NicholasMendola