Hazard sends Chelsea into FA Cup final with victory vs Spurs

Hazard sends Chelsea into FA Cup final with victory vs Spurs

LONDON — Eden Hazard had a rare view from the Chelsea bench, and it wasn’t comfortable viewing.

Twice Willian scored, but each time Tottenham struck back in the FA Cup semifinal on Saturday.

Approaching an hour in with a sharper, slicker Spurs seizing the initiative at Wembley Stadium, Chelsea coach Antonio Conte finally deployed Hazard.

“When you play football you want to play every game,” Hazard said, “but he made a great choice.”

A selection gamble that could have backfired now looked like a masterstroke as Hazard halted the Tottenham momentum and sent Chelsea into a final against Arsenal or Manchester City next month.

Tottenham’s fightback was shut down in a potent five-minute spell. Hazard shot the ball through a crowded penalty area into the net in the 75th minute and then he teed up Nemanja Matic for a powerful strike off the inside of the crossbar.

It secured a 4-2 victory and potentially a psychological blow on the final stretch of the English Premier League. Chelsea’s lead has been slashed to four points by Tottenham with six games remaining but Conte is still in contention for a double in his first season in charge of the west London club.

While Chelsea hasn’t won the FA Cup in five years, Tottenham’s drought goes back to 1991 and it has lost seven successive semifinals since then.

It was a dismal start on Saturday, conceding after five minutes when Willian curled in a free kick but Harry Kane levelled in the 18th when he darted in front of Nathan Ake to flick Christian Eriksen’s cross into the net.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino’s curious decision to play Son Heung-min at left wingback looked a costly one just before halftime when Son slid and tripped Victor Moses in the penalty that Willian converted. But Tottenham replied again seven minutes into the second half after Dele Alli latched onto Christian Eriksen’s exquisite long pass.

And yet the north London club would have nothing to show for its dominance after Conte’s game-changing double substitution that saw Hazard brought on with top-scorer Diego Costa.

“We played with personality and character, and we dominate a team that played well,” Pochettino said. “We forced them to play deeper and play on the counterattack and in transition.”

It was a difficult game for the team coming a day after the shock death of Ugo Ehiogu, the 44-year-old coach of Tottenham Under-23s who collapsed on the training ground on Thursday.

“It is true we are fighting to play and win games but it is all relative after this type of situation,” Pochettino said.

Arsenal faces Manchester City in the second semifinal on Sunday.

There were four Premier League games on Saturday.

BOURNEMOUTH 4, MIDDLESBROUGH 0

Bournemouth nudged closer to securing a third season in the Premier League by moving seven points from danger. But Middlesbrough is plummeting toward the League Championship, sitting nine points from safety.

The visitors imploded in an opening 20 minutes, conceding goals from Joshua King and Benik Afobe, and seeing Gaston Ramirez receive two yellow cards. Marc Pugh and Charlie Daniels added further goals in the second half.

HULL 2, WATFORD 0

Despite striker Oumar Niasse being sent off in the 25th minute, Hull produced a victory to bolster the survival bid. Second-half goals from Lazar Markovic and Sam Clucas kept the north-east side two points above the relegation zone.

SWANSEA 2, STOKE 0

Fernando Llorente’s header and Tom Carroll’s deflected strike ended Swansea’s six-game winless run. The south Wales side remained in the drop zone due to Hull’s win.

WEST HAM 0, EVERTON 0

A drab game secured a point that lifted Everton into sixth place above Arsenal, which has three games in hand. West Ham moved seven points clear of the relegation zone with four games remaining.

Rob Harris, The Associated Press

Just Posted

UPDATE: Mudslides close Highway 1 between Hope and Chilliwack

Eastbound lane not expected to reopen until Saturday afternoon.

Liberal and NDP MLAs stand together in support of SOGI education

Bipartisan support for materials that teach about sexual orientation and gender identity

Chilliwack embezzler back in custody after no-show for Tuesday sentencing

Warrant issued for man convicted of stealing large sums of money from First Nation near Agassiz

UPDATE: High streamflow advisory issued for Chilliwack River

River levels rising fast at Vedder gauge

Education minister blasts Chilliwack school trustee on gender issues

Fleming calls Neufeld’s behaviour ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’

VIDEO: Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival

This year’s event featured six stops, including viewing points and activity centres.

SFU creates fund in memory of Aiden Serr

A celebration of his life on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. at Maple Ridge Baptist Church.

An adopted cat is the best 10 pounds you’ll gain this season

BC SPCA encouraging families to add a forever feline friend during adoption event Nov. 24 to Dec. 3

Uber official says public needs to push for ridesharing in B.C.

Mike van Hemmen tells Kelowna Chamber of commerce ridesharing would be ‘win-win-win’

B.C. co-ops relieved with Ottawa’s housing strategy

Federal government to have a new co-operative housing funding model in place by 2020

B.C. NDP referendum plan sparks legislature battle

David Eby says public will decide on proportional referendum

Hammy has been freed of his threads, a purple antler remains

The iconic Prince Rupert buck with a piece of hammock attached to his antlers was caught by COs

Court adjourned again for man linked to Shuswap farm where human remains found

Curtis Sagmoen will appear back in court on Dec. 14

B.C. family advocating for drug decriminalization following death of son

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has noted the New Democrats would decriminalize personal possession of all drugs

Most Read