Pedro’s extra-time goal fired Chelsea into the FA Cup semi-finals, with the Blues securing a 2-1 win against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.
The first half was a relatively scrappy affair with Chelsea allowing the hosts time on possession. Marc Albrighton fired wide early on and a long-range strike from Wilfred Ndidi produced a save from cup ‘keeper Willy Caballero.
Chelsea did not really offer much from an attacking perspective although the unwillingness of Mahrez and Albrighton to track back allowed wing-backs, Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses space in the wide areas.
It took Chelsea 28 minutes before they registered their first shot on target. Àlvaro Morata failed to test Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester goal. Tiemoue Bakayoko, who had a very poor half, was dispossessed by Kelechi Iheanacho who evaded a challenge from Antonio Rudiger. Iheanacho tried to feed Mahrez but Chelsea broke away. Willian broke forward, fed in Morata who dinked the ball into the far corner. Morata’s first goal since Boxing Day!
Bakayoko, who had a very poor half was replaced by Cesc Fabregas – a midfield of Bakayoko and Kante was not offering much towards Morata who looked isolated in patches in the first half.
Half Time: Leicester 0-1 Chelsea
It was certainly Leicester who started the second half on the front foot with their high intensity producing mistakes from Caballero and Christensen. Albrighton put an excellent ball into the box which was intercepted by Caballero, with Iheanacho lurking at the back post.
After good Leicester pressure, Simpson passed into Ndidi who cleverly chipped the ball into Jamie Vardy. Vardy headed over. After his goal against West Brom last weekend, it looked a much easier to score than miss. Vardy’s chance opened up the cup-tie with Eden Hazard working his way into space but firing over, following a challenge by Vincent Iborra.
Leicester’s high pressure has troubled Chelsea early in this second half with Albrighton putting in excellent crosses time and time again. Rudiger had to be aware to head out. Mahrez tried with trickery, getting by Alonso but ultimately it came to nothing. The calmness of Fabregas in the middle of the park helped Chelsea retain composure.
Leicester pressure finally paid off. Mahrez’s trickery caused Chelsea problems. The ball fell to Iborra. Chelsea, defending like beavers and after a ricochet, Vardy managed a shot which was blocked by Caballero. Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, the ball rebounded back to the England international who blasted the ball home past the despairing Caballero. 1-1 with 15 minutes to go!
Vardy’s goal lifted Leicester. A dangerous ball evaded Okazaki and Vardy forced a save from Caballero. Rudiger tried to shield the ball back to ‘keeper but was forced by Vardy to clear his lines. Chelsea, offering little going forward – Fabregas tried to dink which was claimed by Schmeichel.
Willian, at the heart of Chelsea’s play fed in Morata, who was just onside. Schmeichel, to his credit, did well and closed down the angle. Chelsea did not offer much but remained an attack.
End of 90 minutes: Leicester 1-1 Chelsea
Pedro replaced Willian at the start of the first period of extra time. The Brazilian had another fine performance, assisting Morata’s goal in the first half.
Kante worked the ball into Hazard who played in the substitute, Pedro. The Spaniard leant back and fired over. Next time, Pedro wouldn’t make the same mistake; Kante crossed into the box, picked out Pedro who nodded it past Schmeichel, who was in no man’s land. It looked like the first period would peter out into a rather scrappy affair. 2-1 Chelsea!
All-out attack for Leicester with Diabete replacing right-back Danny Simpson and Adrien Silva replacing Iborra at the heart of midfield. Pedro conceded free kick. Mahrez clipped free kick, ricochets – claim of handball by Kante, Moses blocked Diabete. Chelsea defending like beavers.
Kante looked certain to score. The ever-industrious Albrighton blocked once again. 10 minutes to go. Chilwell looked to cross after being played in but played the wrong pass – Moses blocked. Leicester corner. Corner headed behind by Harry Maguire.
Demarai Gray replaced Albrighton with five minutes of extra time to go. Chelsea saw out the last remaining minutes of extra time with relative ease. Hazard tried to counter, passed to Giroud who mistakenly crossed the ball into the box when the more appropriate option would have been to take the ball to the corner flag.
Final Score: Leicester 1-2 Chelsea (AET)