In the week leading up to the final, Manchester United were predictably considered the bookies' favourites to lift the FA Cup trophy.
I don’t like this “Man Utd are favourites” thing.— MUAYYAD K. (@Muayyad_K) May 19, 2018
Never a good sign that.
However, dockets with Man Utd's name etched on them quickly ripped up by punters when Jose Mourinho named Chris Smalling and Phil Jones (yes, Smalling and Jones together, as a defensive partnership...hilarious right?) at the heart of the Red Devils' defence.
Predictably, this decision proved costly, as on the 20 minute mark, Phil Jones hacked down Eden Hazard inside the penalty area.
Post-Phil Jones' mistake:
My manager leaves Eric Bailly, our best CB, on the bench, whilst still playing Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. I give up.— Ryan. 🔴 (@Vintage_Utd) May 19, 2018
It's when I remember that Phil Jones is in the England squad that the depression really begins to set in.— (((Jon Benjamin))) (@JonBenjamin19) May 19, 2018
Despite playing with nine men - because, let's face it, Smalling and Jones don't count - Man Utd pressed forward with explicit intent at the start of the second half. Jose Mourinho's men thought they had drawn level through Alexis Sanchez on the hour mark, however, his goal was correctly ruled offside:
That was the correct* offside call!— Dana Wessel (@DanaWessel) May 19, 2018
*If it had been against Chelsea I'd be rioting.
How can an offside be harsh 😂 either is or isn't and he clearly is— Sam Crimes (@CrimesSCFC) May 19, 2018
The Red Devils' offensive front was effectively counter-acted by the defensive ineptitude of Smalling and Jones in the second half, as poor positional play from the pairing allowed Marcos Alonso to clear sight of goal in the 71st minute. Fortunately for the English duo, Alonso spurned the opportunity to give his side a two goal lead:
Marcos Alonso...smh— Ğreat (@Egeboss) May 19, 2018
With just ten minutes remaining, Paul Pogba channelled his inner Phil Jones to miss a glorious chance for the Red Devils. The French international was found unmarked on the edge of the six yard box by an Alexis Sanchez corner kick, however, he was amazingly unable to find the target with his subsequent headed effort:
POGBA!!!! OH MY GOD!!!!— HK. (@HammaadKhaann) May 19, 2018
The mistake from Jones and the miss from Pogba would prove to be decisive, as Chelsea lifted the FA Cup trophy for the eighth time in their history, and seemingly send Antonio Conte off with a famous Wembley triumph: