• Chelsea down Palace to set up FA Cup title clash with Liverpool

    Chelsea down Palace to set up FA Cup title clash with Liverpool File photo Chelsea down Palace to set up FA Cup title clash with Liverpool

    Chelsea will face quadruple chasers Liverpool in the FA Cup final after second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount sealed a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

    Thomas Tuchel’s side had to work hard to break Palace’s stubborn resistance in the semi-final at Wembley, but Loftus-Cheek’s ferocious strike put them on course for a third successive FA Cup final appearance.

    Mount put the result beyond doubt with a fine finish of his own, ensuring Chelsea of a date with Liverpool in the final at Wembley on May 14.

    It will be Chelsea’s fifth FA Cup final in the last six years as they look to make amends for losing in the showpiece against Arsenal and Leicester in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

    In their 16th FA Cup final, Chelsea will aim to win the competition for the ninth time and first since 2018.

    It was a welcome tonic after Tuesday’s painful Champions League quarter-final exit at Real Madrid, where the Blues scored three times to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit only to go out after extra time.

    Tuchel has won the Champions League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup in his reign, but he is yet to lead Chelsea to a domestic trophy.

    With three consortiums in the running to buy Chelsea following the British government’s sanctions on Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich after the invasion of Ukraine, the Blues could have a new owner by the time they return to Wembley.

    Beating Palace keeps them in contention to end a troubled season with silverware, although Liverpool, who beat Premier League leaders Manchester City 3-2 in Saturday’s semi-final, will provide far tougher opposition.

    Tuchel made just three changes despite his players’ mental and physical fatigue after the draining defeat in Madrid, leaving Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kante and Loftus-Cheek on the bench.

    Chelsea had beaten Palace twice without conceding a goal in the Premier League this season, but they looked flat in the first half.

    Faced with a Palace side that were tigerish in the tackle and well-drilled in their low defensive block, Chelsea found it hard to impose themselves.

    It took Tuchel’s men 25 minutes to muster a chance and even then Kai Havertz’s looping header was easy for Palace keeper Jack Butland.

    They lost Mateo Kovacic to an injury moments later, with Loftus-Cheek introduced against the team he once played for on loan.

    Tuchel grew agitated as Chelsea laboured to take control and the German turned away in frustration after Cesar Azpilicueta made a hash of an acrobatic attempt to volley Timo Werner’s cross.

    Palace were nearly rewarded for their gritty display just before half-time.

    Cheikhou Kouyate’s drive from the edge of the area was pushed out by Edouard Mendy and Joachim Andersen slammed the rebound against the post from close range.

    Chelsea had more possession in the second half, although Kouyate went close again, heading narrowly wide from Eberechi Eze’s corner.

    Crucially, Conor Gallagher was unavailable to face Chelsea after Palace failed to persuade his parent club to give the England midfielder special dispensation to play.

    That robbed Palace of the guile needed to carry more of a threat and, to their credit, Chelsea never lost their patience.

    They finally took the lead from just their second shot on target in the 65th minute.

    Loftus-Cheek picked out Havertz in the Palace area and the German clipped a pass back to the midfielder, who slammed a superb strike past Butland from 12 yards.

    Chelsea had a spring in their step at last and Mount finished Palace off in the 76th minute, taking Werner’s pass in his stride before slotting past Butland with ease.


    In the Premier League, West Ham United midfielder Tomas Soucek scored his fifth league goal of the season to cancel out Burnley forward Wout Weghorst’s first-half strike and snatch a 1-1 draw against their managerless opponents at the London Stadium.

    Soucek pounced to level the scores after a curling free kick by Manuel Lanzini glanced off Weghorst and into his path in the 74th minute to deny Burnley caretaker Mike Jackson a first win after they sacked long-serving boss Sean Dyche on Friday.

    The result also denied 18th-placed Burnley the opportunity to close the gap on Everton above them to one point, heaping the pressure on the team with seven matches left in the season to avoid the drop to the second-tier Championship.

    Burnley grabbed the lead shortly after midfielder Ashley Westwood was taken off on a stretcher following a serious right leg injury, as Weghorst rose highest to nod in a rebound after Jay Rodriguez headed on to the crossbar from a corner.

    The visitors then squandered an opportunity to double their advantage as Maxwel Cornet dragged his penalty wide following a staggered run-up, having won the spot kick after a challenge by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the box.

    In the other match, Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimaraes grabbed a glorious stoppage-time winner with the first headed goal of his career as the hosts beat Leicester City 2-1 to take another vital step towards preserving their Premier League status.

    Guimaraes struck twice to secure the victory that moved Newcastle up to 14th place on 37 points, 12 above Burnley in 18th spot having played a game more, with Leicester now just three points ahead of the Magpies in ninth. The Foxes went in front after 19 minutes from a cleverly-worked corner, the ball driven low into the box and pulled back for Ademola Lookman to fire goalwards, with his shot squirming under the body of goalkeeper Martin Dubravka into the net.

    Guimaraes levelled for Newcastle on the half-hour mark with the first of his two goals, poking the ball over the line from between the legs of keeper Kasper Schmeichel.

    The goal was initially disallowed but, after a pitch-side VAR review, referee Jarred Gillett reversed his decision and allowed it to stand. Neither side created much of note until the dying moments, when Joe Willock broke down the left before crossing for Brazilian Guimaraes, who threw himself at the ball to head it into the net, to delight the home crowd.