- Motivated Chelsea ensure Sarri's gamble pays off with superb semi-final comeback08:56 | 25/01/2019
The Blues boss showed that his players are following him as they fought through a wonderful London derby match to reach the final.
Photo: Getty Images
There was talk of Sarri playing with fire as he risked a revolt upon saying his stars were “extremely difficult to motivate” after their 2-0 defeat to Arsenal, but his boys looked behind him as they got their deserved win over two legs.
Eden Hazard himself was singled out, and he put in a man of the match display to lead his side passed their fiercest rivals on Thursday night, but it took penalties to deny Mauricio Pochettino his latest chance at silverware.
Both managers have yet to win a major honour but it will be the Italian who will get his chance against a powerful Manchester City side in February.
Eric Dier and Lucas Moura missed as Kepa Arrizabalaga got his moment in the spotlight, with David Luiz getting the winning penalty in front of the Matthew Harding End and his club’s most hardcore fans.
It was built on the 60-year-old’s word as he got the blistering start he was after, and his criticised midfield’s domination showed they can shut their critics up, too.
N’Golo Kante and Jorginho ran the show against Pochettino’s side, who were 1-0 up after a Harry Kane penalty going into the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
The France international would hit back over doubts that he is not good going forward as he struck home his fourth goal of the season, reaching his total for his last three seasons in English football combined.
Hazard picked up the ball in midfield and linked up with Pedro, before Azpilicueta’s first time cross found the Belgian superstar to make it 2-0. Sarriball was back at its fluid best.
It was an outstanding display from Hazard, who left the false 9 position to play in his preferred left wing spot and it was a masterclass in wing play him with his dribbling and crossing being the biggest threat on the night.
However, after what was a dismal half for an overly aggressive Tottenham side, they came out with more composure and attacking threat in the second half.
A front three of Fernando Llorente, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela clicked into gear and, the Spain international who was targeted by Chelsea under Antonio Conte, struck back to make it 2-2 on aggregate.
It must be said that the absences of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min were a big miss, as the trio had six of their side’s eight goals in the competition ahead of kick off.
Chelsea and Spurs slogged it out with an atmosphere equivalent to these two sides’ “Battle of the Bridge” match, where a Hazard equaliser took title hopes away from the North Londoners and crowned Leicester City champions.
There were penalty shouts, yellow cards and Gonzalo Higuain got to witness it first hand after being unvelied to the crowd ahead of kick off.
Higuain still looks like he could be the final piece in the puzzle as Giroud wasn’t one of the star performers on a freezing cold night in the London derby. His last minute header wide perhaps shows the need for the new arrival from Serie A.
Anything less than a Chelsea win over two legs would have been harsh on Sarri, who not only used his system to earn a chance at his first trophy but also his man-management ability, as his words were heard by a dressing room that has seen off more managers than most.
Source – Goal.com
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