Harry Kane is out of sorts, Joe Hart soars before being floored, and Stoke must choose between youth and experience up front
While Southampton will take something from getting this far in the world’s most celebrated domestic cup competition there are other, more pressing priorities, such as making a late dash for safety in the Premier League. Can they take any hope from their performance? Not from the first half. Olivier Giroud’s goal at the beginning of the second period forced Mark Hughes to change things, however, and it was to his team’s benefit. A 3-5-2 became a 3-4-3 and suddenly Charlie Austin was getting service. Southampton will feel they could and should have had an equaliser before Chelsea settled the game, with Austin the likely outlet. The substitutes Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond, meanwhile, were assertive and threatening. Southampton need that level of performance again, from the first whistle, against Bournemouth next weekend. Paul MacInnes
The Chelsea striker maintained his knack for scoring eye-catching goals and winning at the national stadium in the FA Cup semi-final victory over Southampton
Mind transfer, that seemed the best explanation. In the moment Olivier Giroud cracked open this FA Cup semi-final for Chelsea, he must have temporarily swapped brains with Eden Hazard.
That would explain how the 6ft 3in Frenchman was able to dance through a compact Southampton defence like a man a whole foot shorter; first inside then outside, keeping his balance after being tripped, before adjusting his feet to poke the ball into the goal. As soon as the net rippled, the brains must also have switched back, allowing Giroud to celebrate in the chest-out, peacocking fashion he has made his own.
Antonio Conte speaks! “To reach two FA Cup finals in a row is not easy. I’m pleased for our fans, who deserve this win the most. Now it’s important to try to finish the league season as strongly as possible and then to think about the final.”
Mark Hughes speaks! “We’re disappointed. The response to conceding so early in the second half was very good. We didn’t get any luck. Their keeper made a glaring mistake [for the disallowed goal]. I would have thought that was a clear example of where VAR should be used. There was a clear handball as well by Giroud. They didn’t refer that either. So we feel a little bit hard done by. But we were up against great quality and conceding the first goal made it difficult.”
The general conclusion is that Mr Laws is not a football man, and that’s why Southampton’s goal was disallowed.
Re: the disallowed goal, Graham Poll says that goalkeepers are protected by the laws if their feet are off the ground in the six-yard box. In essence, you can’t touch them.
Olivier Giroud on his slalom solo goal “My second passion is actually skiing! I just tried to dribble a little bit and I had a bit of luck, but that’s what I wanted to do. I’m very pleased for the team as we’ve done a great job. Wembley is like my garden and I love to play here.”
Eden Hazard speaks! “We fully deserved to win. I thought we played a very good game, especially second half, and created a lot of chances. At half-time the manager just told us to keep the ball and to play our game. We scored beautiful goals, especially Olivier. Now we go to the final.”
There’s a lot of talk about Southampton’s goal that never was, with Austin penalised for a foul on Caballero when the score was 1-0. Graham Poll on BT Sport thought it was a clear foul in accordance with the laws of the game. But what do the laws know?
In other news, you will not believe the score at the Etihad.
Peep peep! Chelsea are through to yet another FA Cup final on 19 May, where they will meet Jose Mourinho and Manchester United. That’ll have a dignified build up. They were the better team at Wembley, with Eden Hazard at his mesmeric best, but Southampton also had chances in a very entertaining second half. Olivier Giroud scored an extraordinary solo goal 28 seconds after half-time, with the substitute Alvaro Morata sealing it late on.
Do stay with us for some post-match reaction.
90+1 min There will be five minutes of added sweat and toil.
89 min This is over. Southampton know it. Chelsea know it. Even educated fleas know it.
87 min The tireless Austin swings a snapshot over the bar.
86 min McCarthy makes an excellent save from Morata, who could have had a hat-trick in the six minutes he’s been on the field.
84 min It’s all happening! Austin hits the post at one end, and then Morata’s shot is cleared off the line by Hoedt!
83 min So much for striker stereotypes: Giroud scored a Morata goal and Morata has now scored a Giroud goal.
Chelsea will play Manchester United in the FA Cup final. The substitute Morata makes an instant impact, heading into the net from Azpilicueta’s cross. They have been such a deadly combination this season.
80 min A loose ball breaks to Auston just inside the area, but his volley is too close to Caballero. Chelsea make their last change, with Alvaro Morata replacing the goalscorer Olivier Romarioud.
79 min “I like Giroud, but I’ve never quite been able to figure him out,” says Matt Dony. “He’s always been very willing to go for the spectacular, but it often goes awry. When it comes off, though, he can look magnificent. Is he a fantastic player, who sadly doesn’t consistently hit the heights? Or does he just attempt enough ‘Wow’ moments that some are bound to work out, law of averages and all that. He definitely does rock the classic film-star good looks, though.”
78 min Another Southampton change: Manolo Gabbiadini replaces Bednarek. Southampton are going for it.
77 min More great play from Hazard, who makes space on the right before driving a low cross into the area. Cedric’s attempted clearance hits Yoshida and loops just over the bar.
76 min Another Chelsea change: Fabregas off, Pedro on.
75 min Graham Poll, on BT Sport, says it was a clear foul by Austin on Caballero. So there you go.
74 min McCarthy leaps to make a cracking save from Hazard’s fierce rising shot. I can’t keep up with this.
73 min Caballero almost drops the ball into his own net, though a foul had been given against Austin so it wouldn’t have counted. I’m not sure it was a foul - and it might have been over the line as well. Oh VAR where art thou?
72 min How did Caballero save that?! Redmond belted a low right-footed shot from 25 yards that seemed to have squirmed under the keeper, but it ended up going for a corner. I have no idea what happened there. It was like an optical illusion.
72 min Hazard has been comically good today.
71 min Hazard does a Rabona cross. Yoshida heads it away.
70 min This is Southampton’s best spell of the match. It might just be that necessity is the mother of invention; or it might be that Tadic is on the pitch.
68 min Southampton appeal for handball and a penalty when Austin’s flashing header hits Giroud. All they get is a corner. It did hit Giroud’s arm, which was away from his body, and I’m surprised VAR wasn’t used there. The case for Giroud is that he was only a couple of yards away from Austin, but his arm was in an unnatural position and it was worth another look.
66 min Tadic plays a good pass out to Bertrand, who gets to the byline but overhits his cross. That was a better move from Southampton.
65 min Hoedt is booked for a lunge at Hazard.
64 min Chelsea make a change to beef up their midfield. A disappointed Willian is replaced by Bakayoko, and walks straight down the tunnel in a huff.
63 min Southampton make a double change: Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond replace Shane Long and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
62 min Long goes over in the box after a slight shove from Cahill. I don’t think it was a penalty but it was a bit risky from Cahill.
59 min Giroud looks okay to continue, and has a chance to play Willian through on goal. His pass is blocked.
57 min Romeu, already booked, crunches Giroud, who goes down in a lot of pain. It was a fair tackle but he caught Giroud’s ankle in his follow through. Giroud is really struggling.
55 min Lemina is booked for a foul on - you got it, stud - Hazard.
54 min Long misses a great chance to equalise! Austin’s lovely dummy allowed him to run through on goal, but his touch around Caballero was comically heavy and went straight out for a goalkick.
50 min Romeu is booked for a foul on Hazard.
48 min Southampton appeal for a penalty when Long goes down after a good tackle from Fabregas. No need for VAR. Chelsea break superbly and Hazard whips a lovely curling shot just wide of the far post.
It was a fantastic goal. Giroud was found in the area by Hazard and showed brilliant skill to slalom through as defenders slid all around him. He just walked past the lot of them, and the keeper McCarthy, before poking the ball into the net as he fell over. By that stage an army of Southampton defenders were also on the floor, stripped or their dignity and their clean sheet. “It’s like the Grand National,” says Glenn Hoddle on BT Sport, who calls the goal “a chicane”. That was a ridiculous demonstration of skill and composure in a space the size of a phonebox. Honestly, that was the best goal Romario never scored.
Giroud scores after 28 seconds of the second half!
46 min “Daft team that Hughes put out,” says Steve Hoare. “Relies too much on the wing backs for creation. We have JWP, Davis, Boufal, Redmond, Tadic... surely one of them has to play?”
I suppose he is trying to stay in the game for as long as possible and let human nature take over in the final quarter. But I would have at least one of them in the team. There’s so much talent in that squad; I can’t believe they are going down.
46 min Peep peep. Chelsea begin the second half.
Half-time chit-chat “It doesn’t seem that VAR so far is being used for outrageously blatantly bad decisions; there doesn’t seem to be the concept or equivalent of the ‘Umpire’s Call’ in cricket,” says Adam Roberts. “The ‘wobbly line’ offside decision (Mata’s goal) is particularly good example. Even after several viewings, ‘experts’ still disagreed. A perfect time for an umpire’s call ruling.”
It’s almost like it hasn’t been thought through properly. The commentator Arlo White suggested thickening the offside line to create that element of ‘umpire’s call’. I like that idea.
Chelsea have been much the better team, without creating many clear chances. See you in 10 minutes for the second half of this football festival.
44 min The match is sleepwalking towards half-time. It’s been a half to remember, but only if you are into mental self-harm.
43 min “I almost miss the violent stylings of West Brom’s Hegazi amid all ths dazzling Chelsea running about with the ball stuff,” says Ian Copestake. “His delivery of a punch so weak that it could have been passed off as a sign of affection shows how out of touch the modern footballer has become from the days of hard Ron ‘hard’ Harris, etc.”
41 min Yoshida is booked for a foul on Giroud.
39 min A chance for Giroud. He made a complete mess of an attempted flying volley from Fabregas’s cross, but the ball bounced straight up in the air and he was able to launch into another acrobatic volley. This time he connected well and it flew just wide.
38 min With the square root of bugger all happening on the pitch, this is probably an opportune time to remind you that, if necessary, the match will go to extra-time and penalties.
34 min Southampton have the look of a team who are waiting to be put out of their misery. They need to change something because this system isn’t working. I’d be tempted to get Tadic on at half-time.
33 min Willian’s corner from the left is flicked on at the near post by Azpilicueta and flashes right across the face of goal.
32 min “Teams’ substitutes’ benches seem to have taken on the look of a dock in a court, filled with those suspected of various misdemeanours and publicly awaiting their fate,” says Ian Copestake. “I’d be unsurprised if Jimmy McNulty was seen hovering in the background of the Chelsea bench.”
The Wire is a bit of an old reference point, grandad. I’ve moved on to Homicide: Life on the Street.
31 min A fierce long-range shot from Willian smacks Cedric in the face, after which he visits the canvas. He seems fine.
30 min Chelsea work the ball across the field to Azpilicueta, whose long-range shot deflects behind for a corner.
29 min “Is VAR being used in this game?” says Edouard. “I hope so, because I want to talk about VAR today. For some time now I’ve been frustrated that no one has considered a “challenge” system for video replay akin to tennis. I would adapt it like this: each team has one “challenge” per game (or even per tournament). If a challenge is issued, we go to video replay. If the challenge is correct, decision overturned, and the team keep their right to challenge. If it turns out they were wrong to challenge, they lose their right to challenge from then on. The idea being, of course, to incentivise teams to only complain about clear-cut mistakes and keeping video replay to a minimum. Who would have the final say on when to issue a challenge is the tricky part (team captain ? Manager? etc.)
Yes, it is being used today. The system you suggest works well in cricket but that and tennis are more stop-start than football. I’m not sure it would work in football. Basically, the whole needs more thought before it is used in top-level football, because somebody is going to chin a referee at the World Cup.
27 min “MBMs two days running?” says Adam Roberts. “Have you upset someone?”
26 min Hazard plays a one-two with Fabregas, scoots past Bednarek and slams a cutback towards Giroud at the near post. He can’t react quickly enough, under pressure from a defender, and shins it wide. It wasn’t much of a chance but it was lovely play from Hazard.
25 min Southampton have their first shot, a long-range effort from Lemina that is comfortably saved by Caballero.
24 min There’s a lack of creativity in the Southampton team, with Tadic on the bench, and their passing so far has had little purpose.
22 min A very quiet period in the game.
19 min Southampton have done well to survive that early battering and will hope to start feeling their way into the game. Hazard and Willian, buzzing behind Giroud, do look very dangerous though.
17 min Southampton enjoy a couple of minutes’ grace in the Chelsea half.
14 min Willian clips the free-kick onto the roof of the net. McCarthy had it covered.
13 min Kante is fouled just outside the area by Bednarek. Southampton are under relenteless pressure and this free-kick is in a perfect position for Willian...
12 min Fabregas’s low cross finds Hazard, who takes the ball in his stride and is about to score from close range when Yoshida slides in to make a fantastic tackle.
11 min Southampton are struggling to get out of their half. The pace of the game is relatively slow, perhaps because of the heat, though it speeds up whenever Hazard gets the ball.
9 min “No BT Sport in my TV package, so I’m relying on you to provide news of a comprehensive victory,” says Matt Loten. “It’s very important to me, as a Portsmouth fan, that Southampton don’t one-up our glorious run to the 2010 FA Cup final whilst also getting relegated from the Premier League. Besides, cup finals are so often a let-down, so surely at the very least we need the guaranteed entertainment of an irate Mourinho trying to pull out Conte’s hair plugs on the sidelines after a Giroud header secures Chelsea a scruffy 1-0 win in extra time?”
8 min Chelsea look really sharp, Hazard in particular.
7 min Willian hits the woodwork for the 487th time this season. Hazard surged at the heart of the defence and pushed a good ball to Willian on the right of the box. He moved the ball onto his left foot and whipped a shot that beat McCarthy before clanging off the top of the bar.
5 min Hazard spins neatly away from Lemina 25 yards from goal and hits a scorching rising drive with his left foot that whistles past the angle of post and bar. Great effort.
4 min “Hi Rob,” says Steve. “With all the talk about how the Champions League is a holy grail, don’t you think that offering a Champions League spot to the FA Cup winner, instead of fourth place, would restore interest in the competition. Somehow to me it seems more appropriate for someone who actually won something to get into the champions league instead of a fourth-place team...”
I’d bring back the Cup Winners’ Cup, so I’m probably not the best person to ask. But yeah, why not? Sod it.
3 min Hojbjerg plays a one-two with Long and is tracked excellently by Kante.
2 min “I understand why Giroud has started but he clearly does his best work as a Plan B as opposed to being a Plan A,” says Shivam. “Also not a fan of “cup goalkeepers” starting in semi-finals. You play your best team - no loyalties.“
I agree with both points, particularly the first. Football is in the dark ages when it comes to using substitutes.
The players are in the tunnel, ready for action. It’s soccer o’clock!
Mark Hughes speaks! This competition wasreally good for me as a player, so I suppose I tap into those memories when I speak to the guys. It’s a chance for them to make their mark – they’ve got to embrace it. If we can play like we did last week and cut out a few mistakes, we think we can go very, very close.”
Antonio Conte speaks! “We must be focussed on this game. We did very well to come back against Southampton last weekend, but this competition is unpredictable and we must pay attention today.”
It’s a busy day in the Premier League. Stoke lead Burnley 1-0, while Jacob Steinberg is enjoying a thriller between Arsenal and West Ham.
Team news There are no real surprises in the Chelsea team, with Olivier Giroud picked ahead of the woebegone Alvaro Morata. Southampton have switched from 3-4-2-1 to 3-5-2, with Charlie Austin up front alongside Shane Long.
Hello. Chelsea have been stuck in their own version of Groundhog Day – win title, lose plot, sack manager, repeat – but Antonio Conte could provide a variation on that theme by winning the FA Cup on his way out.
We know Conte is going to leave this summer. But winning a trophy would put a pleasant, alternative spin on second-season syndrome – especially as it would involve beating his nemesis Jose Mourinho at Wembley.
Antonio Conte would not admit it after the match, but Chelsea’s progress to a second successive FA Cup final has been restorative. The Italian has worn a haggard expression on the touchline in recent weeks as his side’s pursuit of the top four was rendered ever more forlorn, his demeanour indicative of a campaign consumed by anticlimax. But the old zest and manic enthusiasm were back in plain sight at Wembley. Chelsea eased beyond Southampton to ensure a season that has served to underwhelm could yet yield major silverware.
The prospect of another spiky collision with José Mourinho, and Manchester United, in the domestic season finale will merely add to the sense of occasion. “There is not a problem between him and me,” offered Conte rather unconvincingly of a counterpart with whom he has sparred regularly during his time in England, with relations having reached a nadir this year.
Historical Transfer News and Team Gossip has been archived below:
Fri, 23 Jun 2017 15:56:31 +0000: Pellegrino appointed Southampton manager - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Southampton | BBC Southampton appoint Mauricio Pellegrino as their new manager, with the 45-year-old former Alaves boss replacing Claude Puel.
Thu, 15 Jun 2017 08:42:32 +0000: Southampton sack manager Puel - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Southampton | BBC Southampton sack boss Claude Puel after one season in charge, when they finished eighth in the Premier League and reached the League Cup final.
Wed, 14 Jun 2017 08:00:05 +0000: Premier League fixtures in full - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Southampton | BBC Find out your club's full fixture list for the 2017-18 Premier League season.
Tue, 13 Jun 2017 14:24:39 +0000: Barnsley sign Saints defender McCarthy - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Southampton | BBC Barnsley sign Southampton defender Jason McCarthy for an undisclosed fee on a three-year deal.
Wed, 07 Jun 2017 18:20:44 +0000: Liverpool end interest in Van Dijk - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Southampton | BBC Liverpool apologise to Southampton over "any misunderstanding" and end their interest in defender Virgil van Dijk.
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has been a busy man in the transfer market this summer as he looks to reinforce his squad for the start of next season after a great run which saw them promoted to the English top flight via the play offs. Adkins is now desperate to bring in new names to the club so that he can secure their position in the top flight for another season at least.
The first signing of the summer sees promising young full back Nathaniel Clyne arrive at St Mary`s from Crystal Palace after the promise of the clubs plans to attempt to quality for Europe this season were very enticing for the player. Southampton though will need to pay a large compensation fee to his current club if the deal goes through as due to the players age his former club feel they are due some type of payment from the saints after he signed a new four year deal last week.
Another player who has just be signed by the club is talented striker Jay Rodriguez after he recently arrived from Burnley for a fee which is believed to be around the six and a half million pounds mark. Adkins has long been an admirer of the player and is extremely happy with the signing which he sees as just perfect to bolster his attacking line for next season.
A shocking bit of news right now for Southampton is the fact that their attempts to bring defender Alexander Buttner to St Mary`s may be in tatters after his current club Vitesse Arnham have halted the move after another club have come into the frame for the players signature. Southampton may now find themselves in a bidding war for the player who they see as a perfect addition to their squad so as of now all dealings over the player have hit a premature halt.