Lukaku Scores As Chelsea Advances To The FA Cup Semi-Finals
Middlesbrough Vs Chelsea : Lukaku strikes as Chelsea reach FA Cup semi-finals
Chelsea advanced to the FA Cup semi-finals for the third year in a row as a rare goal from Romelu Lukaku spurred a 2-0 victory over Championship side Middlesbrough on Saturday.
In what may have been a shock, Thomas Tuchel’s squad never seemed threatened as they made it six wins in a row since Roman Abramovich placed the European champions up for sale. Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring with his second goal in seven appearances. Before the halftime break, Hakim Ziyech extended Chelsea’s lead at the Riverside Stadium. Following that, the Blues dispatched the quarter-final with little trouble, assuring a last-four participation at Wembley in April as they seek to reach the final for the third year in a row.
Chelsea is functioning under a special licence that allows them to play matches after the UK government’s sanctions against Abramovich in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A slew of suitors filed bids to acquire Chelsea from Abramovich before the deadline on Friday, giving Chelsea fans confidence that their present issue would be resolved soon. Tuchel claims he is unaware of the transaction, but the German has done an admirable job of keeping Chelsea’s players focused despite the off-field drama.
Chelsea has won 12 of their last 13 games, with the exception of a penalty shootout defeat to Liverpool in the League Cup final. Following a critical reaction from Middlesbrough and even their own fans, Chelsea withdrew their request for the quarter-final to be played behind closed doors after being denied the opportunity to sell their whole allotment of tickets due to the fines.
Tuchel was concerned that his team would have to take a 10-hour bus ride to the game due to restrictions on how much money they could spend on away travel before the transfer to a new owner. However, they were ultimately permitted to travel to Teesside, where they easily avoided any FA Cup turbulence.
Middlesbrough had stunned Manchester United and Tottenham in the previous two rounds, but it was evident that there would be no third. Tuchel made five changes from the midweek Champions League last 16 victory at Lille, but still played a formidable team, including the much-maligned Lukaku, who nearly missed connecting with Mason Mount’s low cross in the first seconds.
If that miss exemplified Lukaku’s problems this season, he showed a glimmer of the predatory instincts that drew the Blues to spend a club record £97 million to purchase him from Inter Milan last year in the 15th minute. Middlesbrough pressed them deep within their own half, and Thiago Silva and Ziyech combined in a flurry of passes to neutralize the hosts’ pressure. Mount’s lung-bursting run down the right was aided by Ziyech’s wonderful long throw, and the England striker whipped over a perfect cross that Lukaku met with a clinical finish from six yards.
Lukaku’s goal was his 12th for the club this season and his 16th in the FA Cup since his debut in 2012. However, there was no evidence of jubilation or even a grin from Lukaku, reflecting the challenges of a campaign that saw him forced to apologise after implying he was eager to return to Inter.
Despite their huffing and puffing, Middlesbrough seldom seemed to frighten Chelsea, and the Blues’ additional talent was on display again as they doubled their advantage in the 31st minute. Middlesbrough were left chasing shadows after a slick burst of passing from Mount and Mateo Kovacic, and Ziyech came in from the right wing to fire a twisting shot into the far corner from the edge of the area. Middlesbrough goalkeeper Joe Lumley may feel he could have done better, but Ziyech seemed unconcerned as he celebrated his 29th birthday with a goal.
We are in the Semi-Final! A special thanks to all of the supporters! Oohhh Thiago Silvaaaaaa 🤪 pic.twitter.com/1FBNV7NXrM
— Thiago Silva (@tsilva3) March 19, 2022