Last season’s Premier League champions looked very far from that level of play in 2017/18, but Antonio Conte‘s men rallied on Saturday to pick up a piece of major silverware.
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Chelsea topped Manchester United, 1-0, in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, behind Eden Hazard‘s first-half penalty kick.
The victory for the Blues marks the club’s eighth FA Cup triumph, which is tied for third all-time in England with Tottenham Hotspur. Chelsea only trails Arsenal (13) and United (12).
Hazard proved to be Chelsea’s biggest threat from the opening kick off, and it was the Belgium international that got the Blues on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute from the penalty spot.
The 27-year-old did well to glide through the United defense prior to the goal, forcing Phil Jones to drag down Hazard in the penalty area, while earning himself a yellow card in the process.
United’s pressure mounted through the latter stages, but even Paul Pogba‘s free header with seven minutes remaining couldn’t find its way on frame.
Alexis Sanchez thought he had an equalizer in the 63rd minute, but the Chilean was ruled offside after Jones’ saved header found the United attacker just a yard from goal.
The Red Devils came out with a fury in the second half, with Marcus Rashford coming close early after the halftime break with a powerful, dipping effort that tested goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
United struggled mightily to get anything going in the opening stanza, however, Pogba’s tremendous run down the center of the park nearly gave the Red Devils a late equalizer on the stroke of halftime.
Referee Michael Oliver had his first big decision to make at a quarter of an hour, after Nemanja Matic collided with Tiemoue Bakayoko inside the United area.
However, the head official opted to allow play to go, which appeared to be the proper decision, as Bakayoko’s feet got tangled despite the encounter with Matic.
The Blues started well, and nearly found an early break in the ninth minute when Hazard’s close-range blast tested David De Gea at the near post.