Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United: Eden Hazard penalty proves decisive in FA Cup final
By Kate Burlaga at Wembley
Last Updated: 20/05/18 12:15pm
Eden Hazard delivered a potential parting gift to Antonio Conte as Chelsea edged Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley to win the FA Cup for the eighth time.
Hazard calmly converted a 22nd-minute penalty after being brought down by Phil Jones and it proved decisive as the Blues avenged last year's defeat to Arsenal and ended a tumultuous campaign on a high note.
Conte had conceded before the game that victory here may not save him from the sack after a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Premier League, but the Italian ends a sour season with silverware, serving up a first cup final defeat in England to old foe Jose Mourinho in the process.
United, who had been forced to start Romelu Lukaku on the bench following injury, failed to have a shot on target in a disjointed first half but despite dominating after the break, were repeatedly denied by Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, as well as an offside flag when Alexis Sanchez thought he had struck back.
Chelsea: Courtois (8), Azpilicueta (6), Cahill (8), Rudiger (7), Moses (6), Fabregas (6), Kante (8), Bakayoko (6), Alonso (6), Hazard (8), Giroud (6).
Subs: Morata (5), Willian (5).
Man Utd: De Gea (6), Valencia (5), Smalling (6), Jones (5), Young (5), Herrera (6), Matic (6), Pogba (5), Lingard (5), Rashford (6), Sanchez (5).
Subs: Mata (5), Lukaku (6), Martial (6).
Man of the match: Eden Hazard
Both sides paid tribute to the late Ray Wilkins, giant banners unfurled in the sun and shade of Wembley, before the cagey start that had been predicted ensued.
Hazard crafted the first chance, shuffling his shoulders as he cut inside and forced David de Gea to divert the ball to safety with an outstretched right boot.
Michael Oliver waved away a penalty appeal from Tiemoue Bakayoko, the Chelsea man tripping himself up despite dangerous pressure from Nemanja Matic, but when Hazard burst through on goal and Jones slid in desperately, Oliver pointed to the spot.
Marcus Rashford started up front for Manchester United, with Romelu Lukaku deemed only fit enough for the bench.
Olivier Giroud, Thibaut Courtois and Gary Cahill were among the starters for Antonio Conte, who surprisingly named untried 18-year-old Trevoh Chalobah on the bench.
Judged to have made a genuine attempt to win the ball, Jones was reprieved under new rules with yellow rather than red, but Hazard served up further punishment as he held his nerve to slot low.
United, thwarted repeatedly on the edge of the area and too often forced sideways, toiled as Paul Pogba lashed wide and the wasteful Sanchez ballooned over from range. Jones met a ball at the back post with shoulder rather than head, before Marcus Rashford shot weakly as United fans called for Romelu Lukaku.
Rashford forced Courtois into a double-handed punch and then palm clear as United returned with belated drive and the noise level raised in Wembley's West End.
It was the England youngster's ball that Courtois eventually pushed into Sanchez's path shortly after the hour-mark but though the Chilean squeezed in the ball at the back stick, the offside flag was raised and proved right by video replays.
Up the other end, Marcos Alonso shot straight at De Gea before another flashpoint saw the ball kept alive by Victor Moses bounce off Ashley young's arm. Video technology cleared him of intent but Mourinho, sensing the need to maintain momentum, called for Lukaku and Anthony Martial.
Nemanja Matic took late aim, harried by the tireless N'Golo Kante, before Pogba headed wide when Olivier Giroud slipped. But the equaliser remained elusive for a United side who finish the term without a trophy and Conte, whatever the future holds, celebrated with triumphant fists in the air.
- Chelsea have won their eighth FA Cup and their first since 2012, level with Tottenham - only Manchester United (12) and Arsenal (13) have won more.
- Jose Mourinho has lost his first cup final in charge of an English club, after winning each of the previous six (4 x League Cup, 1 x FA Cup, 1x Europa League).
- Antonio Conte has tasted success in a domestic cup final for the first time in three attempts as a manager, after losing with Juventus vs Napoli in the 2012 Coppa Italia, and the 2017 FA Cup with Chelsea against Arsenal.
- Manchester United have won in just one of their last four FA Cup final appearances, beating Crystal Palace in 2016, losing to Chelsea in 2018 and 2007 and ending on the losing side to Arsenal courtesy of a penalty shoot-out in 2005
- Eden Hazard's penalty was the first scored in an FA Cup final since Ruud van Nistelrooy for Man Utd v Millwall in 2004 (excl shootouts).
Man of the match - Eden Hazard
N'Golo Kante was familiarly busy, while Gary Cahill exuded calm in the heat of the showdown but Eden Hazard - on his 300th Chelsea appearance in all competitions - proved the difference.
Afforded ample space by the Blues' 3-5-2 system, Hazard frequently looked to spring central attacks - and brutually exposed Phil Jones in the pivotal minute. A sublime touch left Jones scrambling and the Belgian converted the spot-kick that followed with nonchalant ease.