FA Cup: Pedro heads Chelsea into the semi-finals
Antonio Conte’s side are drawn against Southampton and Manchester United will play Tottenham
Leicester City 1 Chelsea 2
Chelsea secured an FA Cup semi-final showdown with Southampton thanks to an extra-time goal from Pedro. Earlier yesterday the Saints had seen off Wigan 2-0 in their first game under new manager Mark Hughes.
In the other semi-final, to be played on the weekend of 21-22 April, Manchester United will face Tottenham after their comfortable wins against Brighton and Swansea on Saturday.
In fact it was Chelsea who had to work hardest to reach the last four of the tournament, the seven-time FA Cup winners edging past Leicester City 2-1 in an entertaining contest at the King Power Stadium.
Alvaro Morata had put the visitors in front three minutes before the interval with his first goal of the year before Jamie Vardy levelled on 76 minutes for the Foxes.
That took the tie into extra-time and it was Pedro who scored the winner when he headed home N’Golo Kante’s clever cross on 105 minutes with Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel out of position.
“I’m a bit upset at the moment because I think we deserved another result,” said Leicester boss Claude Puel. Asked about Schmeichel’s mistake that gifted Pedro the winning goal, Puel replied: “I think since the beginning Kasper has been a fantastic goalkeeper. In goal there is always a mistake but he has been fantastic. I can’t say anything wrong about him - he’s a fantastic keeper. We are unlucky.”
Chelsea’s victory sets up a semi-final clash against Southampton, who reached the last four for the first time since 2003 with a regulation win at Wigan, conquerors of Manchester City in the previous round.
This time there was no upset with the Saints, who appointed Hughes last week to replace the sacked Mauricio Pellegrino, rarely troubled by the League One side.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg opened the scoring for Southampton and Cedric Soares made it 2-0 in stoppage time after Manolo Gabbiadini had missed a penalty for the visitors.
“It was an important day for the players,” said Hughes. “It was a statement of intent and a start. We have work to do in the Premier League, but we will enjoy this moment… they have lost a bit of confidence recently but they are good players.”
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte praised his side’s resolve in digging out a result four days after losing to Barcelona. “After a game in the Champions League, it wasn’t easy for us,” he said. “We fought a lot against Leicester and showed a great desire to fight and will to reach the semi-final and in the second year in a row at Wembley.”
With the FA Cup representing Chelsea’s only chance of winning some silverware this season, Conte admitted it now had an added importance, and also because of the defeat in last season’s final to Arsenal.
“Last season it was a pity to lose the final and not celebrate the double,” he said. “Our target is to do our best. If we can reach the final I want to change the final result.”
FA Cup results and semi-final draw
FA Cup quarter-final results
- Swansea City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3
- Manchester United 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
- Wigan Athletic 0 Southampton 2
- Leicester City 1 Chelsea 2
FA Cup semi-finals draw
- Manchester United vs. Tottenham
- Chelsea vs. Southampton
What dates are the FA Cup semi-finals?
The FA Cup semi-finals will take place on the weekend of 21-22 April.
When is the 2018 FA Cup final?
The FA Cup final will take place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 19 May.
FA Cup winner betting odds
Latest best prices according to Oddschecker, as of 19 March:
- Tottenham: 9/4
- Man Utd: 5/2
- Chelsea: 7/2
- Southampton: 16/1