By 90Min
May 19, 2018

Chelsea are your 2018 FA Cup winners after having beaten Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley on Saturday afternoon in a tense final.

Both sides came into this clash needing a trophy to ink a silver lining around their season. But the Blues obviously needed it more, given their fifth-place finish in the Premier League.

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United secured Champions League football for next season by finishing second in the standings and did not need the FA Cup as badly. Yet with a piece of silverware up for grabs, having fought their way to the final, the Old Trafford side were just as keen.

Antonio Conte, who was under more pressure to win what could be his last match in charge of the Blues, started Alvaro Morata on the bench and gave Olivier Giroud the nod. Tiemoue Bakayoko also got a start in midfield alongside Cesc Fabregas and N'Golo Kante.

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Trevoh Chalobah was a surprise inclusion on the bench, while Thibaut Courtois got the start between the sticks over Willy Caballero for the first time in the competition this season. Impressive young defender Andreas Christensen, though, was made to miss this one after picking up a back injury.

Romelu Lukaku made the bench for the Red Devils after suffering an ankle injury that kept him out of their last three games. Eric Bailly joined him on there as well, rather surprisingly, with Jose Mourinho opting for the combination of Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia at the back. 

The two sides employed the feel-out game in the opening minutes with hardly any urgency, but things picked up a bit after the first quarter of an hour.

Eden Hazard, as expected, was man-marked by Ander Herrera, but the Belgian - playing his 300th game for the Blues -  got the game's first shot on target, forcing David de Gea to stick out a foot to save his shot from a tight angle around the 10th minute after beating his marker in the box down the left-hand side.

Hazard would be the one to hand the blues the advantage, calmly slotting in a penalty past David de Gea in the 22nd minute after being brought down in the box by Jones when his slick touch off Cesc Fabregas' long ball set him on goal.

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United piled on the pressure and dominated possession following the opener, but the Stamford Bridge outfit were able to protect their slim lead going into halftime.


The second half began with the Blues soaking up pressure as United kept up with the lion's share of the possession. And Marcus Rashford ended a flurry of moves from the Red Devils with a sharp shot from outside the box but it was straight at Courtois.

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The match opened up after that as both sides looked to surge forward, but Mourinho's side did appear the likelier to score.

United put the ball into the back of the net after Courtois got down to make a brilliant save off Jone's header in the 63rd minute. However, Alexis Sanchez's rebound goal did not stand as the assistant's flag went up and VAR would ultimately confirm that the Chilean was offside when the ball came off the defender's head.

VAR came into play again around the 70th minute when Ashley Young was accused of handling the ball in the box after Marcos Alsonso wasted a glorious chance to put up Chelsea 2-0. The Englishman was let off, though, with the determination being that there was nothing he could do to avoid getting his arm to the ball.


Mourinho threw Lukaku and Anthony Martial on moments later, taking Jesse Lingard and Rashford off in an attempt to inject some pace and strength in the Red Devils' attack.

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Paul Pogba would also squander a precious opportunity as he rose to meet a cross unmarked in the Blues box. The Frenchman would somehow head wide, sparing the Londoners' blushes with just eight minutes of regulation time to go.


Conte would withdraw both Giroud and Hazard in the dying minutes, sending on Morata and Willian. And United were pleased to see five minutes go up on the board.


The Blues, though, would hold on for dear life and see it through to the end, winning Conte the very first cup final of his managerial career.


Lineups


Chelsea (3-5-1-1): Courtois, Rüdiger, Cahill (c), Azpilicueta, Alonso, Bakayoko, Kanté, Fabregas, Mose,| Hazard, Giroud.

Substitutes: Caballero, Zappacosta, Chalobah, Barkley, Pedro, Willian, Morata. 

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Young, Smalling, Jones, Valencia (c), Ander Herrera, Matic, Alexis, Pogba, Lingard, Rashford.

Substitutes: Romero, Bailly, Darmian, Mata, McTominay, Lukaku, Martial.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)