Chelsea 1 – 0 Manchester United
An exciting conclusion to the domestic season, the FA Cup always brings a thrilling spectacle. This was certainly the case this year as Eden Hazard scored the game’s only goal to give Chelsea the victory after a horrific mistake by United defender Phil Jones. Antonio Conte won the managerial duel in what could be his final game for the club after a poor league campaign this year.
FA Cup Final : A game of two halves
Manchester United started well, dominating possession throughout the first half. The team failed to do anything with their superiority in possession, offering little attacking threat. As Chelsea looked to be gaining footing in the game, a fundamental mistake by Jones allowed Hazard to run in behind United’s defence. Hazard easily outpaced Jones, only to be brought down in the box by the United defender. The England defender received a yellow card for the challenge.
This was much to the shock of the Chelsea players who demanded a more severe punishment. Replays show referee Michael Oliver made the right decision to only award a yellow. The Belgian midfielder stepped up and calmly converted the penalty to give Chelsea the lead. Chelsea saw out the first half, certainly looking like the dominant side as United presented little attacking threat in the first half.
The second half looked to be a very different scenario. United came out for the second half determined to get back into the game and it showed. United continued to dominate possession, finally offering a larger attacking threat as the team had several chances throughout the second half. The team came close to scoring several times. Alexis Sanchez was denied by VAR, which was used for the first time in an FA Cup final. It didn’t matter as the linesman already had his flag up for offside.
The best chance to bring it level was a United corner, where Paul Pogba found himself completely unmarked, only to fail to get a clean contact with his head. This resulted in the French midfielder heading wide of the goal. Marcus Rashford was denied a good opportunity to make the score level by a strong Thibaut Courtois in the Chelsea goal.
Romelu Lukaku made his comeback from injury late in the game, but failed to make much of an impact. Although United looked to be the better side for most of the second half, the Chelsea defenders were determined. Chelsea saw out their 1-0 lead to win the 8th FA Cup in the club’s history.
Man of the match
The entire Chelsea team put in a strong effort and the award could have gone to a number of candidates. The defence made some vital tackles and N’Golo Kanté dominated the middle of the pitch. However, my man of the match goes to Hazard. Although not at his best today, he still looked like a big threat whenever he got the ball, creating issues for the United defence.
He gave Jones several issues in the match today. Hazard’s run onto Cesc Fabregas’ pass proved to be the moment that decided the game. He came off in the 90th minute knowing that he’d done the job for his team to win the cup. After failing at the final hurdle against Arsenal last season, Hazard won the FA Cup for the first time in his career.