Chelsea book their return to Wembley with a comfortable victory at Riverside.
Written by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).
With an international break on the brink, Chelsea looked to close out their current schedule by confirming a return to Wembley with a victory against Championship side Middlesbrough.
Despite being in a current state of uncertainty, Thomas Tuchel has tackled the club’s issues face on by responding with five consecutive victories. The Blues looked to build on their current form by going one better, and reaching the final four of the FA Cup for the third consecutive year.
Before the game Tuchel made five changes to the team that won in Lille on Wednesday, with Malang Sarr, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount and Romelu Lukaku all returning to the starting eleven.
The hosts entered the game having not beaten the London club since 2006.
The visitors began the game positively, which nearly resulted in a goal in the early stages. On the third minute, Mason Mount flashed a dangerous ball across the face of goal which came close to finding Romelu Lukaku and a diving Christian Pulisic.
It was a combination of poor defending from the hosts alongside Chelsea’s pressure which nearly saw the European Champions draw first blood. That being said, Tuchel’s side continued to pester the Middlesbrough backline before breaking through on the 15th minute with Romelu Lukaku converting the opener.
With the first half then rolling on, Boro attempted to pile on the pressure but failed to cause any significant bother to Édouard Mendy.
The difference between the two teams was the level of quality in the final third. On the 31st minute, Hakim Ziyech made it two with a well-struck effort from distance that doubled the visitors lead.
Four minutes later, Romelu Lukaku was a goalline clearance away from putting daylight between the two teams before the half-time whistle. Regardless, the Blues went into break with a comfortable two goal lead.
The hosts began the second half with Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun hitting the ball over the crossbar in attempt of rescuing the game. Mason Mount also had a shot deflected wide, with Chelsea continuing with their momentum from the first half.
The England international, who picked up the two assists in the game, nearly had a third on the 72nd minute when his cross found the head of substitute Timo Werner. However, the German was denied by a good save by goalkeeper Joe Lumley.
In the final 10 minutes, the duo looked to combine to place the icing on the cake of a top Chelsea performance. Instead, the Blues were denied a third by a crucial block that kept the lead at just two goals.
Chris Wilder’s side had their first shot on target in the 84th minute, which speaks volumes in suggesting how they performed in front of goal. The full-time whistle eventually blew, which marked Chelsea’s return to Wembley next month.
After the Whistle:
In what could’ve been the last ever game in the Roman Abramovich era, Chelsea comfortably breezed by an uplifted Middlesbrough to reach the final stages of yet another cup competition.
Having already won the Super Cup and the Club World Cup, the Blues will look to set the record straight in the FA Cup this season, especially after losing in the final in the last two years.
Despite beating both Manchester United and Tottenham to earn their place in the last eight, Boro couldn’t go one better against Chelsea who controlled the game from start to finish at the Riverside Stadium.
With an international break around the corner, Thomas Tuchel’s side will now not be in action until April 2ndwhere they will face Brentford at Stamford Bridge.
Middlesbrough will hope to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat and continue their quest for Premier League football next season. They’ll also next be in action on April 2nd, where they will travel to Peterborough.
Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea.
- Lukaku (15’).
- Ziyech (31’).
BBC Sports Player of the Match:
Mason Mount (Chelsea).
Middlesbrough (3-5-2): Lumley; Dijksteel, Fry (45’), McNair (53’(; Jones, Crooks, Howson ©, Tavernier, Taylor (58’); Balogun (74’), Connolly (58’).
- Subs: Bamba (45’), Peltier (53’), Bola (58’), Watmore (58’), Coburn (74’).
Chelsea (4-3-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta ©, Silva, Rüdiger, Sarr; Mount, Loftus-Cheek, Kovačić; Ziyech, Lukaku, Pulisic.
- Subs: Werner (68’), Kanté (69’), Kenedy (81’), Vale (84’).
Middlesbrough (39%) vs Chelsea (61%).
Middlesbrough (5) vs Chelsea (11).
Shots on Target:
Middlesbrough (0) vs Chelsea (4).
Middlesbrough (4) vs Chelsea (5).
Middlesbrough (10) vs Chelsea (11).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | BBC Sport).