Date: 18th March 2018 at 7:11pm
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With Chelsea making the cold trip north today, to face Leicester City in the FA Cup, it was the club`s last shot at silverware this season. With Antonio Conte teetering on the brink of his exit from the club, the lineup for the match would be interesting for the supporters.

Conte started the game with a strong eleven. With Courtois missing through another injury of convenience, Willy Caballero started in goal as he has in the previous rounds of the competition. Victory would seal a spot in a Wembley semi-final, defeat could see the Italian back home ahead of the upcoming international break.

Manchester United, Tottenham and Southampton were already qualified, one of the two sides would join them. It was a relatively even start to the game but the balance of power in the first quarter was Leicester`s.

Chelsea`s first real effort was an Alvaro Morata shot that was well set up by Marcos Alonso, spotting the striker free on the edge of the box. The Spaniard ought to have done better.

The period up to the break was better for the Blues, unless the ball happened to be at the feet of Tiemoue Bakayoko. His propensity to find a Leicester player gave indication of a player who had not checked the colour of the shirt he was wearing.

Chelsea were building up a head of steam the longer the game went on and their ability to break was again looking like their best hope of scoring. It was that route that brought about the goal that would see Chelsea lead at the break.

Riyad Mahrez lost the ball to Alonso. Willian picked up the ball on the edge of his penalty area and set off a run. He released the ball in the centre circle into the path of Morata, who had not scored since the 26th December.

His run on goal brought about a one on one with Kasper Schmeichel. The Spaniard dropped his shoulder and lifted the ball over the outstretched arm of the keeper. Morata`s joy at scoring was immense.

Half Time Leicester City 0-1 Chelsea

Antonio Conte clearly felt Bakayoko was out of his depth in the game and replaced him at the break with Cesc Fabregas. Leicester started the second period like a team who needed a goal. They did. The tie would be decided one way or another with no replay.

As Leicester pushed for that leveller, Chelsea were happy to operate using their counter attacking prowess. It was just a question of which side would actually make the crucial next breakthrough.

With both teams still creating using their respective methods, from a Chelsea point of view, when that breakthrough came, it was Leicester who got it.

It was difficult to apportion any blame to any one Chelsea player, unlike some recent goals conceded. A ball into the box by Mahrez saw the first attempt blocked, the second blocked saved well by Caballero, before he unluckily saw the ball scooped into the path of Jamie Vardy by his legs. That with ten minutes left to play.

Both keepers made saves that kept their sides in the tie as the 90 minutes closed out. The last thing Conte would have wanted was another 30 minutes of play, having travelled back from Spain three days earlier.

Full Time Leicester City 1-1 Chelsea

Alvaro Morata kicked off the first period of extra-time. After the hustle and bustle of the game, extra time was a little more subdued. Conte swapped Willian for Pedro early on, a strange decision considering a most of Chelsea`s good play came through the Brazilian and Hazard had done very little.

Towards the end of the 15 minutes, Andreas Christensen made way for Gary Cahill. The Dane appeared to have tweaked his groin. In the FA Cup an extra substitute is allowed once the game enters extra-time.

With the first period all but over, Conte`s substitution paid off. Pedro ghosted in between the two centre halves, jumped in front of Schmeichel who having come out, found himself in no man`s land. The Spaniards header was well directed into the goal. Conte made his extra substitution replacing Morata with Olivier Giroud.

Extra Time – First Half Leicester City 1-2 Chelsea

Leicester started the second extra period like a team who needed a goal. They did. A well worked free kick gave them a couple opportunities to equalise again, but Chelsea`s defence worked well to keep the ball out.

Chelsea have had plenty of practise in recent games of sitting back, but generally not whilst leading. The half continued in a similar vein, but with some relief Chelsea were able to hold out for the victory that would see their hopes of silverware kept intact.

Extra Time – Second Half Leicester City 1-2 Chelsea. This performance was full of character as far as Chelsea concerned. Questions have been asked of them recently and they answered on the field today. They have a trip to Wembley to look forward to, where they will face Southampton.

A good afternoon all round. Smiley face.

 

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