Business As Usual: Chelsea Reach Wembley By Beating Boro

These are troubled times for Chelsea off the pitch, but when those players cross the white line it is business as usual.
19:12, 19 Mar 2022

Middlesbrough’s run of FA Cup upsets came to an end at the Riverside Stadium against Chelsea. The 2-0 defeat played out in front of a full-house, something Chelsea higher-ups had tried to block in the build-up. The terrific home support were a credit to their team on the night and while Boro were outplayed, they put up a tremendous effort throughout.

Chelsea made their standing count early on. Mason Mount flashed in a cross that just narrowly missed Romelu Lukaku and Christian Pulisic. He would repeat the trick minutes later, and on the second attempt Lukaku was on hand to finish. The Belgium international has made the FA Cup a happy hunting ground this season, and this was his third goal in the competition.

Middlesbrough fought back, and caused Chelsea some problems. There was an energy about their play as they pressed all over the pitch. Isaiah Jones in particular managed to get away from his markers on a number of occasions. These minutes of promise would fall away into the ether soon enough though.

Hakim Ziyech cut in on the right inside and fired in a left-footed strike that evaded the grasp of Joe Lumley. The Boro shot-stopper could have perhaps done better, but the Dutchman must be credited with perfect placement. Whatever your view of the preventability of the strike, it gave the home side a mountain to climb in the second half.

Boro opened the second half with a superb passage of play. Jones found Matt Crooks with a ball along the touchline. The midfielder played in Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun, who could only fire his shot over the crossbar under pressure.

Sol Bamba had replaced the seemingly-injured Dael Fry in the heart of the Boro defence at half-time. Just nine minutes into the half, manager Chris Wilder was forced into another defensive change. Paddy McNair pulled up, and was replaced by Lee Peltier. At 37 and 35 years old respectively, Boro’s backline gained plenty of experience but perhaps lost the vitality needed to repel Chelsea’s advances.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek did brilliantly to turn Jonny Howson in midfield, and his wide ball to Ziyech created a crossing opportunity. The ex-Ajax man saw his effort headed away and the chance went. The game took on an admirably end-to-end quality, as Jones once again provided the out-ball on the right hand and ran to challenge Malang Sarr.

Jones, an electric presence all night, exchanged with Balogun on the edge of the box and fired in a cross that needed saving by Edouard Mendy. The Riverside crowd were lifted by this passage of play, and the noise was two fingers up at the Chelsea hierarchy’s egregious suggestion that this game should have been played behind closed doors.

Mount’s free kick was headed towards goal by substitute Timo Werner. Lumley needed to pull off a good save to keep Chelsea from disappearing over the horizon. The German was denied again by a superb Sol Bamba block. The fight Boro showed even with time running out was a credit to what Chris Wilder has done at this football club.

That fight was not enough to inspire a turnaround, and Chelsea will march on for a second visit to Wembley Stadium this season. They will hope for a better result than their penalty defeat to Liverpool in the final of the Carabao Cup. These are troubled times for Chelsea off the pitch, but when those players cross the white line it is business as usual.

x
Suggested Searches:
The Sportsman
Manchester United
Liverpool
Manchester City
Premier League
Sportsman HQ
72-76 Cross St
Manchester M2 4JG
We will not ask you to provide any personal information when using The Sportsman website. You may see advertisement banners on the site, and if you choose to visit those websites, you will accept the terms and conditions and privacy policy applicable to those websites. The link below directs you to our Group Privacy Policy, and our Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at: DataProtection@Betfred.com

All original material is Copyright © 2019 by The Sportsman Communications Ltd.
Other material is copyright their respective owners.