Kante sends Chelsea into FA Cup semis

FA Cup By: Victor Akhidenor | 13/03/2017

N'Golo Kante lone strike sent Chelsea into the FA Cup semifinals against holders Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Monday.

Ander Herrera was dismissed for fouling Chelsea Eden Hazard, leaving United a man down from the 35th minute and five minutes into the second half Kante broke the deadlock after Paul Pogba failed to close him down before unleashing a shot from 20 yards that beat goalkeeper David De Gea.

Up until the 36 minute when Herrera was sent off, United dominated possession for a long period and closed down wingbacks Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses.

Marcos Rojo had a chance in the first two minutes, but his free header from a Henrikh Mkhitaryan corner went over Thibaut Courtois’ bar.

A quick break from the Red Devils 12 minutes into the game saw Mkhitaryan go close with an edge of the penalty area shot which went wide.

Four minutes later, Eden Hazard brought Chelsea alive with a twist and turn which Chris Smalling couldn’t handle as the Belgian tore United’s defense apart but David De Gea produced a wonderful save. He made another save seconds later, thwarting Gary Cahill.

Referee Oliver having just warned Phil Jones for a foul, then handed Herrera a second yellow and red for the Spaniard for needlessly hacking down Hazard on 36 minutes. United coach, Jose Mourinho, immediately replaced Mkhitaryan with Marouane Fellaini.

The tension on the pitched spilled over to the touchline with Antonio Conte and Mourinho clashing over a challenge on Alonso. The fourth official Matt Jones stood between the pair then got the referee to speak to the two bosses.

Both coaches maintained the same lineup on resumption of the second half but within six minutes of the restart, the host took the lead. Kante picked up a loose ball, took a touch, and then struck from just outside the penalty area to beat De Gea.

United’s best chance came in the 60th minutes when an error from Cahill and David Luiz allowed Marcus Rashford to race clear for goal but Courtois was on hand to kick the striker’s goal-bound shot to safety.

Seconds later, Diego Costa had a chance to double Chelsea’s lead but his free header in the six-yard box went wide. The Blues dominated possession and held on to a deserved win.