They were far from their fluent best, but Chelsea are in the FA Cup semi-final courtesy of yet another clean sheet against Sheffield United.
The Blues controlled possession but created few clear chances in the first half before Ben Chilwell’s cross-shot to the back post was diverted home by Oliver Norwood’s outstretched leg.
Christian Pulisic was denied by Aaron Ramsdale early in the second half, but the Blades then dominated the last third of the match and David McGoldrick will have nightmares about missing the target with a header from inside the six-yard box.
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Thomas Tuchel’s side held on for their seventh straight clean sheet and in a place in the last four, wrapped up by substitute Hakim Ziyech's late goal.
Talking point - Will Pulisic ever reach his peak at Chelsea?
Pulisic should be a star at Chelsea. He arrived just after Eden Hazard was leaving the Bridge and was expected to take on his mantle as the darling of the Blues faithful. He is talented enough to fill such hallowed boots and his effortless flip-flap leaving two defenders for dead on the edge of the area was reminiscent of the Belgian, though you would have fancied Hazard, at least in his Chelsea days, to match with a finish.
He does not come across as a happy player. His soreness at the numerous fouls which went unpunished might have contributed to his post-match glumness but he could barely raise a smile when given the BBC man of the match award (possibly sensing he would not get the Eurosport nod). He wants to be the star man, but this is not going to happen at Stamford Bridge where Tuchel's defensive focus is much more likely to see the more risk-averse mindset of Mason Mount or Kai Havertz in his favoured position behind a front man in the business end of this season.
Injuries have undoubtedly hindered him and a free run may change things in the 2021/22 season but, though just 22, he seems a young man in a hurry to be America's first genuine world superstar, which may well see him leaving Stamford Bridge in the next 18 months.
Chelsea's French striker Olivier Giroud reacts
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Man of the match – Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)
His contribution to the first goal, spotting the opportunity to drill a difficult low ball to defend, was the key moment and he also set up the second with a clever dinked ball into the area enabling Ziyech to fire home.
He has not always looked super impressive since his big-money move from Leicester last summer and has not been a fixture in the Champions League, but there is probably not a more balanced left-sided defender in the Premier League or available to Gareth Southgate.
When the Blades pushed on in the last half hour he made some key clearances to ensure his side were not scored against again.
Chelsea: Kepa 7, Hudson-Odoi 6, Christensen 6, Zouma 7, Chilwell 8*, Kovacic 7, Gilmour 6, Mount 6, Pulisic 7, Emerson 6, Giroud 5. Subs: Azpilicueta 6, James 6, Havertz 6, Ziyech 7, Kante 6.
Sheffield United: Ramsdale 7, Baldock 6, Jagielka 6, Stevens 6, Osborn 7, Bogle 7, Lundstram 6, Norwood 6, Fleck 6, McGoldrick 6, McBurnie 5. Subs: Burke 6, Brewster 6, Mousset 6.
24’ GOAL FOR CHELSEA! A bit unlucky for the Blades. A corner came to Chilwell on the back edge of the area and Chilwell hit a low cross-shot to the back post which Norwood diverts with a stuck out leg into the net.
47’ Brilliant feet from Pulisic to beat two Blades defenders on the right-hand edge of the penalty area but Ramsdale makes a good save with an outretched right hand and then the American balloons the rebound over.
67’ WHAT A CHANCE! A cross from Lundstram is deflected into the path of McGoldrick six yards out but he heads wide of the target.
77’ McGoldrick does brilliantly beating Azpilicueta and walking a tightrope with the ball along the by-line before firing an effort that Kepa pushed just far enough away from Bogle.
90+2' GOAL FOR CHELSEA! Ziyech puts matters beyond doubt. He played the ball to Kovacic in central midfield on the break, he slides the ball to Chilwell who lofts a ball into the area which the Moroccan forward takes down and fires home.
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