Eden Hazard profited from a Phil Jones error to win and score a first-half header which turned out to be the winning goal as Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley Stadium to win their 8th FA Cup.
Hazard once again proved to be the difference for Chelsea on an important day for Antonio Conte as he scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute to highlight a brilliant defensive display.
Jose Mourinho’s men had all the chances in the second half to get back into the clash but it wasn’t to be as the Blues saw the game out to make up for their 2-1 final defeat against Arsenal 12 months ago.
The big team news before the game saw Romelu Lukaku having to settle for a place on the bench after not fully recovering from his ankle injury to play 90 minutes, with Marcus Rashford given the nod to lead the attack for Mourinho’s men.
On the other hand, Conte started with what he calls his best team with Oliver Giroud leading the line in a 3-5-2 formation which gives Hazard the chance to roam and affect the game in a positive way.
Straight from kick-off it was clear what one of Mourinho’s tactics were as Ander Herrera was given the task of man marking Chelsea’s danger man Hazard not for the first time for Mourinho’s men against the Blues since he took over two seasons ago.
The game itself started at a slow pace with both sides looking to sit back and see what each other were going to do in the game before showing their hand.
That showed with the first chance of the game when a mistake from Jones gave Hazard the ball with the winger beating three men before forcing David de Gea into a very good save.
That gave the Blues the confidence of getting at the United defence and that’s were the first goal of the game came from when Phil Jones fouled Hazard in the box as he was through on goal.
Hazard got himself up off the ground to take the penalty and he confidently slotted the ball into the back of the net sending De Gea the wrong way.
United, therefore, had to respond to going behind but they really struggled to create any big chances against a very well-organised Chelsea defense with the only real chance for United coming right at the end of the half when Jones headed wide, when he should have done better, from a good cross from Ashley Young.
Not long after that chance the half-time whistle went with Chelsea well in control of the contest with United needing to be much better in the second half if they were to get back into the game.
Straight from the restart of the game it was clear that Mourinho had some harsh words for his players as they came out at the start of the second half playing with much more urgency than they did throughout the first.
This resulted in Thibaut Courtois being called in action a few times to keep his side in the lead. The first save came from a Rashford shot after a great passing move from United.
The next save that the Belgian keeper made though was much more impressive when he denied Jones from levelling the score with a goal bound header. Alexis Sanchez put the ball into the back of the net from the rebound, but it was correctly ruled out for offside.
Chelsea though were always a danger on the break and they almost made it 2-0 when N’Golo Kante played Marcos Alonso through on goal but the left back saw his shot well-saved by De Gea.
It meant that it was going to be a frantic finish to the game as United went in search of an equalising goal that would send the final to extra time and they should have late on when Paul Pogba somehow put a free header wide of the goal from a Young corner.
Man United continued until the very last second of the game to get a goal, but they failed to get an equaliser, as the Chelsea defenders showed real determination by throwing themselves in front of everything to win the match and that is exactly what they did as they won the FA Cup to end a disappointing season on a high.