Five talking points from Chelsea’s win against Southampton

Chelsea booked their place in the FA Cup final thanks to second half goals from Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata.

Giroud continued his brilliant record against Southampton to open the scoring with a stunning solo effort just 28 seconds into the second half.

And then his late replacement Morata confirmed Chelsea would be heading for a second successive cup final with a header two minutes after coming on.

Chelsea will now face Manchester United, and former boss Jose Mourinho, back at Wembley on May 19.

Chelsea dominated the first half without creating too many chances.

Willian hit the bar early on after collecting Eden Hazard’s pass and cutting in onto his left foot and Olivier Giroud later fired an acrobatic volley inches wide.

But they made a dream start to the second half when Giroud latched onto man-of-the-match Hazard’s pass and jinked his way through the Southampton defence, leaving five players on the floor, to stab Chelsea in front.

It was the French striker’s eighth goal in 12 games against the south coast club.

After a cautious first half, going behind sparked Southampton into life and they went agonisingly close through Shane Long and Nathan Redmond.

Charlie Austin also slid an effort against the post but by then Chelsea were already 2-0 up and heading for Wembley after, for the seventh time this season, Cesar Azpilicueta crossed for Morata to score.

1. Giroud gets nod…and torments Southampton again.

Olivier Giroud won the battle to start ahead of Alvaro Morata – and justified his selection brilliantly.

The target man turned twinkle-toed striker to fire Chelsea into a deserved lead just 28 seconds into the second half.

The Frenchman’s composure to leave Southampton bodies flailing and score a goal from less than half a chance was outstanding.

He collected the brilliant Eden Hazard’s pass, slipped between Mario Lemina and Maya Yoshida, left Cedric Soares and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy grounded with a quick change of direction and just had enough balance left to stab the ball into the empty net just before Jan Bednarek could get back to stop him.

It should have been no surprise. Giroud has an outstanding record against Southampton for one, now eight in 12 goals.

And he loves the FA Cup and Wembley too. He has won it three times with Arsenal and now not lost any of his 10 club games at Wembley.

That Morata then replaced Giroud late on and scored the second just two minutes after coming on was the icing on the cake for Conte.

2. Chelsea’s place in the final, Conte’s finale

Thanks to Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata, Antonio Conte will have the chance to sign off with a trophy on May 19.

It is almost certain to be his last game as Blues boss with an end of season parting of the ways seemingly inevitable after a season of tension between the Italian and the board.

Winning the FA Cup might not spare him from that fate but it will be some way for him to go out, and with his head held high too.

A Premier League and an FA Cup trophy – won against Manchester United and Jose Mourinho no less – would be a decent return from two years in charge.

3. Chelsea rediscover form just in time

Chelsea’s season appeared to be drifting nowhere, but their visit to Southampton has sparked them back into life.

Rewind to last Saturday lunchtime and Chelsea were 10 points off fourth-placed Tottenham and seemingly heading for a disappointing to the end of the season.

But in the space of a week, that gap has been cut to five points and they now have an FA Cup final to look forward too.

The dramatic, Olivier Giroud-inspired comeback from 2-0 down at St Mary’s appears to have kickstarted them again.

There they regained the spirit, as Conte pointed out, that looked to have disappeared as they limped towards the end of the season.

It was on display again in their win against Burnley after they recovered from being rocked by a Clarets equaliser.

And they capped a brilliant week by digging in against Southampton to claim a cup final place.

4. Long blows his big Mark Hughes moment

If only Shane Long possessed the same composure as his manager Mark Hughes did 24 years ago.

Hughes has a proud history in the FA Cup and his stoppage time equaliser for Manchester United in the 1994 semi-final against Oldham is one of the highlights.

He saved United with a stunning extra-time equaliser to earn a replay which they won on their way to completing a famous double.

Hughes kept his cool to hook a ball dropping over his shoulder into the top corner.

The glorious chance that fell Shane Long’s way not long after Olivier Giroud’s opener was much simpler.

But Long’s control let him down badly after Charlie Austin dummied Wesley Hoedt’s pass into his path and the chance went agonisingly begging.

Southampton were chasing a double of their own but their season now comes down to their desperate bid to beat the drop, with their chances fading by the game.

5. More Wembley heartbreak for Southampton

Southampton’s EFL Cup final defeat here to Manchester United must be one of the harshest cup final defeats Wembley has ever seen.

Southampton’s loss on their return to the national stadium wasn’t quite up there in the cruelty stakes but for Mark Hughes’ men there was only more heroic failure.

They took a while to get going and looked content to frustrate Chelsea, slow the game down and play on the break.

But they had to come out and play once they fell behind 28 seconds into the second half and showed how much of a threat they can pose when they go for it, just as they did against United and recently in the league against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Shane Long, Nathan Redmond, Charlie Austin went closest and Chelsea were made to work but the end result was a familiar one for he same – more agonising disappointment for Southampton.

Source: Read Full Article