Leicester City 1:2 Chelsea aet
A Pedro header in extra-time settled a classic cup-tie in Chelsea’s favour at the KPS on Sunday evening…
Claude Puel made two changes to his side, with Iheanacho and Albrighton in for Okazaki and Gray, as City attempted to reach their first FA Cup semi-final since 1982.
The game moved from end to end almost from the start, and City went close in the 3rd minute. A low Simpson cross from the right found Albrighton, whose half-volley flew a yard wide of the right hand post.
City then looked exposed as Chelsea broke forward, but Willian over-hit his pass.
Morgan got his head to two corners, but the first deflected off Rudiger’s shoulder and the second cleared the bar.
Moses incurred the wrath of the home crowd, twice falling over in the hope of a free-kick, neither of which fooled the ref.
Ndidi then launched a long-range shot that was too close to Caballero to trouble him.
Morata began to look threatening, but sent one shot straight at Schmeichel and then sent a header over the bar from a decent position.
In the 36th minute Maguire’s through ball set up a race between Vardy and Caballero, which the Chelsea keeper narrowly won.
The box to box nature of the game was summed up when Chelsea took a 42nd minute lead. Mahrez was crowded out by three defenders as he attempted to get into the area, and Chelsea broke swiftly with Willian easing round Chilwell and racing upfield.
His perfect pass to Morata took three defenders out of the equation and the Spaniard produced a cool finish to beat Schmeichel, ending a thirteen game goal drought.
City started the second half in a more attacking frame of mind and Chelsea looked stretched. A minute into the second half Caballero’s clearance went straight to Mahrez, but his long range shot at an empty goal was high, wide and not very handsome.
In the 53rd minute a delightful chip from Ndidi found Vardy between the two centre-halves, but he ballooned his header over the bar.
As City pressed forward Albrighton attempted a snap-shot from a tight angle but Caballero fielded it comfortably.
At the other end Moses sent a dangerous cross, into the goalmouth but Schmeichel’s touch took it away from the waiting Morata.
Claude Puel made his first change in the 68th minute, bringing Okazaki on for Iheanacho.
There was a lengthy stoppage when Moses caught Iborra in the face with an elbow, and City seemed more switched on after the restart, grabbing a 76th minute equaliser.
Mahrez ghosted past Kante and Alonso down the right and cut the ball back to Vardy whose shot was blocked. Iborra seized on the rebound, which was also blocked, but came back to him for another shot which was well saved by Caballero. The loose ball fell for Vardy who blasted it home from close range.
City had their tails up now and three minutes after the goal Okazaki was a couple of inches away from putting a finishing touch to Chilwell’s cross.
City looked the more likely winners at this stage, but Caballero got down well to save a Vardy shot after he’d been sent through by Maguire.
Schmeichel then made two fine saves in as many seconds, twice denying Morata from close range.
Moses’ flying elbows claimed another victim in time-added-on and Albrighton had to be treated for a nosebleed, though Craig Pawson didn’t allow more added time for the lengthy stoppage.
So extra-time awaited for an already freezing crowd.
Pedro replaced Willian, just two minutes after the restart, before VAR was used for the first time after Fàbregas claimed an assault by Vardy.
With both teams looking leggy, Chelsea regained the lead in the 105th minute.
Kante chipped a ball into the area, Schmeichel came racing off his line to claim it, but Pedro nipped in ahead of him to nod the ball into an empty net.
For the second half of extra-time, Puel replaced Iborra and Simpson with Silva and Diabaté, and City had a quarter of an hour to keep their cup hopes alive.
Two minutes into the final period City won a free-kick 35 yards out.
Silva back-heeled it for Mahrez who lofted it into the area, Okazaki nodded it on for Maguire who blasted it across the goalmouth. It went just behind Diabate at the far post but got fed back to Mahrez who had a fierce shot blocked by Kante. The loose ball fell for Diabate but his shot was blocked by Moses.
As play raced to the other end Kante had a shot brilliantly blocked by Albrighton, City’s Man of the Match.
Puel’s final change saw Gray on for Albrighton, but Chelsea were in full time-wasting mode now and play was broken up.
Despite Craig Pawson pointing to his watch every time a Chelsea player went down, or took an age to take a free-kick he only added one minute on, and the final whistle brought loud booing from the stands and an inquest between the City players and the ref.
Sadly, a real opportunity to chase the one trophy that has always eluded City was missed, and the disappointment wasn’t eased when Chelsea drew Southampton in the post-match semi-final draw.
Claude Puel wasn’t impressed with the mysterious time-keeping: “They waste a lot of time and there was just one minute at the end. I think it was harsh. It would have been important to come back in the game. But they were trying to keep the result and to waste time because they have a lot of experience We can have more time to try to come back.”
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson (Diabaté 105), Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez, Iborra (Silva 105). Ndidi, Albrighton (Gray 115), Iheanacho (Okazaki 68), Vardy. Substitutes: Hamer, Dragovic, Fuchs.
Chelsea: Caballero, Azpilicueta, Christensen (Cahill 101), Rüdiger, Moses, Kanté, Bakayoko (Fàbregas 45) Alonso, Willian (Pedro 92) Hazard, Morata (Giroud 105)
Substitutes: Zappacosta, Emerson, Eduardo.
Referee: C Pawson. Attendance: 31,792.
PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.
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