Kante sinks Man United as Chelsea march towards the double
Blues to face Spurs in last four after bad tempered clash at Stamford Bridge as fans label Man Utd boss Mourinho a 'judas'
Chelsea 1 Manchester United 0
A second-half goal from N'Golo Kante and a red card for Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera settled a bad-tempered FA Cup quarter-final in favour of Chelsea who now face a last four clash against London rivals Tottenham.
Chelsea's victory means that three clubs from the capital have made it into the last four of the FA Cup for the first time since 2002. The third, Arsenal, will face Manchester City in their semi final.
Chelsea booked their place at Wembley in April with a dominant display against United, although the key moment came when Herrera was given his marching orders late in the first half after two fouls on Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard.
Although the ten men of United held out until half time they were undone by a moment of magic from Kante soon after the break. The French international is not known for his goals but registered his second strike of the season against United after 51 minutes, when he created space to shoot on the edge of the box and drilled a low shot past David de Gea, who had kept his side in the tie until that point.
While United's hopes of following up their League Cup triumph by retaining the FA Cup, Antonio Conte's Chelsea side remain on course for the domestic double, a feat they last achieved under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010.
"It was a good performance against a strong team with good players," said Conte, who was involved with an angry touchline confrontation with Jose Mourinho shortly after Herrera was sent off ten minutes before half-time.
The midfielder was shown a second yellow by referee Michael Oliver for fouling Hazard, and Conte claimed later that the Belgian had been targeted by United.
"I think sometimes when you play against players with great talent you try and intimidate these players," he said. "This tactic, to play by going to kick the opponent, does not exist. It's not football for me. I don't think this can be a tactic."
It was always going to be a big ask of United to beat the Premier League's in-form team, particularly in the light of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's suspension and the injuries to Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial. Mourinho was forced to ask a sick Marcus Rashford to play and while he laboured hard up front he was not helped by another off-colour performance from Paul Pogba, which further undermined United's chances of causing an upset at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho's frustration was evident as he prowled the touchline, coming under verbal attack from the Chelsea fans, some of whom called him "Judas". By way of response, Mourinho raised three fingers to remind the home fans how many league titles he won during his two spells in charge of the club.
"They can call me what they want... until the moment they have a manager that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I'm the number one," he said later. "Until then, Judas is number one."
There was no doubt in Mourinho's mind as to the turning point of the match - the dismissal of Herrera. "Everybody can analyse from different perspectives but we all watch the match until the red card and after the red card," he said.
Asked whether he thought his player deserved to receive his marching orders, the Portuguese replied: "I don't want to go in that direction. In four matches he [Oliver] has given three penalties and a red card. I cannot change that. I shook his hand and said many congratulations. Mr Oliver goes home and he can do his own analysis, because I don't want to analyse his work."
Man United face striker crisis as Mourinho riles Chelsea
Former Blues boss accuses his old club of being 'defensive' ahead of FA Cup quarter-final clash.
Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester City have been confirmed as FA Cup semi-finalists, leaving Chelsea and Manchester United to battle it out for the last remaining berth tonight.
But Jose Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge for the second time as United manager with all four of his frontline strikers absent.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is serving a ban for his clash with Tyrone Mings last week, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial are injured and Marcus Rashford is ill. None have travelled to London with the squad.
"The manager had planned to field one of Rooney, Rashford and Martial at number nine in the absence of Ibrahimovic," says The Guardian. "But with Rooney injuring himself in a training accident with Phil Jones on Sunday, Rashford falling ill on the same day and Martial also suffering an unspecified problem Mourinho will now have to field a makeshift forward line at his former club."
Mourinho faces a "unique dilemma" says the Daily Mirror, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Marouane Fellaini now expected to start in a central role.
The United manager will be hoping his second visit to Chelsea this season does not pan out like the first, which ended 4-0 to the home side and brought the curtain down on Mourinho's love affair with the London club.
The game was something of a watershed for both teams: for Chelsea, it was a staging post on their surge to the top of the Premier League table and the third in a series of 13 consecutive league wins, while United, who were badly stung by the result, have not lost a league game since then.
Building up to tonight's clash, Mourinho has branded Chelsea a defensive, counter-attacking side - and he may have succeeded in riling Blues boss Antonio Conte.
"The Chelsea manager has largely attempted to avoid being drawn into mind games with his predecessor this season," says The Times, "but has objected to Mourinho's caricature of his side and can point to the fact that they have scored 18 more league goals than United to support his case."
Mourinho's comments could be inspired by "bitterness more than generosity", says Chris Bascombe in the Daily Telegraph.
"It is conceivable that during his Chelsea tenure Mourinho felt criticism of his cautious football outweighed the praise for turning the club into title winners. It would be easy to suppose the universal acclaim afforded Conte for his expert application of similar methods rankles with the Manchester United manager."