Chelsea 1 Man Utd 0 Match Report
After 22 minutes, Eden Hazard broke clear, leaving Phil Jones trailing in his wake. Hazard twisted and turned and just as he was about to pull the trigger, Jones brought him down. Yellow card and penalty.
Hazard picked himself up, dusted himself down and sent United keeper David de Gea the wrong way from the resultant spot kick. 1-0 to Chelsea and that was that. For all England supporters, they can only hope that this is not an omen for the World Cup when they play Belgium.
Manchester United had been poor throughout the majority of the first half and whilst they significantly improved in the second half, dominating possession and territory, they never really put the Chelsea goal under the sort of pressure that such dominance should have led to, bar one disallowed goal for offside.
United huffed and puffed but lacked a real cutting edge. They could not get behind the Chelsea rearguard and rarely stretched or hurt them, playing all their footballl in front of the Chelsea defence, for whom Anthony Rudiger was awarded the Man of the Match award. There was a feeling that if United had scored then they might well have gone on to win the game, but scoring does not come that easily or regularly for this current United side.
Chelsea were comfortable and exercised their Italian manager, Antonio Conte’s masterplan to perfection. This was classical Azzurri football, the blue shirts of Chelsea and Italy seemingly interchangeable. Take the lead, defend it with your life, frustrate the opposition and come away with the spoils, which is exactly what Conte’s men did this afternoon.
Indeed, in a rare second half foray they should have scored a second and made the game safe but Marcus Alonso shot straight at de Gea when he really should have done better.
Chelsea ran the clock down expertly and even with Jose Mourinho summoning Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata from the bench, it made little difference. Indeed, the longer the game went on the less likely United looked like scoring.
For United supporters, this was a bitterly disappointing afternoon. Their team has little spark and none of that flamboyance and all out attacking intent that characterised many of their former sides, a style that many argue define the club. Even Alexis Sanchez has added little since his January move. Despite finishing second in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho does need to have a serious look at his playing resources and style of football.
For Chelsea an ultimately joyous afternoon in the Wembley sunshine and a fitting send off to their characterful manager, Conte, if he does indeed depart as has been widely predicted. At least he can leave with another trophy safely tucked away.
However, a little like United, they lack charisma and play in a very pragmatic way, barely causing their supporters to rise off their seats and become excited by their style of football.
Ultimately this was a poor match and largely forgettable. It was decided by one man, Eden Hazard, who was by some distance the most creative player on the pitch and it was perhaps fitting that it was his intervention that won the match. Indeed the best footballers do have an uncanny knack of winning matches, Hazard is the best player from either side and Chelsea won the FA Cup. It is no coincidence.