FA Cup: Chelsea knock out Leicester, qualify for semi-finals
Chelsea moved into the FA Cup semi-finals as Ross Barkley sealed a 1-0 win at Leicester, while Arsenal joined their London rivals in the last four after a dramatic 2-1 victory against Sheffield United on Sunday
Looking to win the first trophy of Frank Lampard’s reign, Chelsea recovered from a woeful start at the King Power Stadium.
The Blues could easily have been behind before the break, but Lampard rang the changes at half-time and Barkley — one of the players introduced — grabbed the winner with a cool finish.
“It is a learning experience. I could have taken more off. I am not pulling those out on their own,” Lampard said after hauling off Mason Mount, Reece James and Billy Gilmour.
“They will be top players for this club and have top careers. But if I have to do something in games I will do it. They will take it on the chin.
“We are fortunate they didn’t take those chances. All the subs, in their own way, livened up the performance.”
Chelsea’s quarter-final success could be a good omen for the Blues, who beat Leicester at the same stage en route to winning the competition for the eighth and most recent time in 2018.
“I don’t want to sound too down after this. You have to show the grit to get a win when you don’t play well. We won the game and must learn from some of the mistakes,” Lampard added.
Lampard made six changes to the team that handed the Premier League title to Liverpool with a victory over Manchester City on Thursday.
Chelsea were initially out of sorts as a result and Leicester’s Harvey Barnes had a sight of goal inside 30 seconds, the winger’s heavy touch letting the ball squirt away as he prepared to shoot.
It was a sluggish start from Chelsea and Blues defender Antonio Rudiger angrily admonished his team-mates after snuffing out a Youri Tielemans raid.
When Wilfred Ndidi was given acres of space to head straight at Willy Caballero, Lampard could be heard bellowing “liven up” at his sloppy stars.
Leicester defender Jonny Evans headed Ben Chilwell’s free-kick wastefully wide from close range.
Christian Pulisic had scored in each of Chelsea’s first two games since the restart and the United States winger led their response with a fierce strike that Kasper Schmeichel tipped over.
Lampard still wasn’t satisfied and sent on Barkley, Mateo Kovacic and Cesar Azpilicueta at half-time.
Chelsea looked more vibrant after the changes, with Kovacic dominating in midfield.
Pressing harder and breaking with purpose, Chelsea took the lead in the 63rd minute.
Willian swung in a teasing cross from the right and Barkley got in front of Evans to guide a clinical finish past Schmeichel.
It was the England midfielder’s fourth club goal of the season, with three of those coming in the FA Cup.