David de Gea had a day to forget as Olivier Giroud and Mason Mount helped Chelsea outlcass Manchester United 3-1 in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley
Giroud ensured Chelsea deservedly led with the help of slack goalkeeping from De Gea at the end of a half in which United lost Eric Bailly to a serious-looking heading injury.
De Gea was at fault again almost immediately after the restart when Mount doubled Chelsea’s lead with a shot a keeper of any level would hope to save.
The Spaniard was not entirely convincing when Harry Maguire put into his own net to compound a miserable day either, but – despite a late penalty from Bruno Fernandes – Frank Lampard’s side were good value for the win and can now look forward to a return to Wembley to face Arsenal in a rematch of the 2016-17 final.
Chelsea’s pressure had United on the back foot early on but Reece James’ stinging drive was the only save De Gea had to make, with Marcos Alonso wastefully putting a free header over.
United’s performance was at odds with their recent form and they saw Bailly taken away on a stretcher in a neck brace after a nasty clash of heads with Maguire.
After a lengthy delay, Giroud’s deft touch from Cesar Azpilicueta’s right-wing cross squirmed past De Gea, who might feel he should have done better, in the 11th minute of first-half stoppage time.
Just a minute after the restart De Gea’s outing got even worse when he allowed Mount’s seemingly unthreatening 20-yard effort under his body, albeit Brandon Williams’ wayward pass did his side no favours.
Marcus Rashford flashed a tantalising ball across the face of goal and Maguire headed wide when Willy Caballero flapped at a corner as United tried to muster a response.
But it was game over when Maguire got the final touch on Alonso’s drilled cross and De Gea was again beaten, with Fernandes’ clinical spot-kick after Callum Hudson-Odoi’s clumsy challenge on Anthony Martial providing scant consolation.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had masterminded three wins over Chelsea this season, but his decision to match their 3-5-2 system – a tactic that yielded success at Stamford Bridge in February – did not pay dividends, nor did the selection of De Gea over regular cup keeper Sergio Romero.
For Lampard, he can now end his first campaign as boss with silverware, although Mikel Arteta will be equally desperate to land a maiden trophy as Gunners head coach.
Giroud leads the way
Many will talk about De Gea’s shoddy work for the opener but Giroud deserves credit for getting in front of Victor Lindelof and providing a classy flick.
The Frenchman has six goals in his past seven starts and was a constant menace. Not a bad return for a man who seemed destined for an exit just six months ago.
De Gea back under the spotlight
The form of United number one De Gea has been the topic of discussion for some time, most recently for an error in a 1-1 draw against Spurs when the Premier League resumed last month.
De Gea responded with four clean sheets in the following six top-flight matches, but a keeper of his quality really should have saved Giroud’s effort and the second goal was inexcusable.
United’s focus turns back to the race for the top four in the Premier League as they host West Ham on Wednesday. Chelsea will eventually prepare for Arsenal and a Wembley return but can confirm their own place in the Champions League spots by beating Liverpool on the final day.