Chelsea beat Manchester City 1-0 on Saturday to book a place in next month’s FA Cup final thanks to a second-half goal by Hakim Ziyech which ended City manager Pep Guardiola’s dream of steering his side to an unprecedented quadruple of titles.
Ziyech scored in the 55th minute when he tapped into an empty net from a cross by Timo Werner with City goalkeeper Zack Steffen in no man’s land after racing off his line to close Werner down but then seeming to change his mind.
The win at Wembley leaves Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel on course for a trophy after engineering a remarkable turnaround since he replaced Frank Lampard in January, with the Blues also in the Champions League semi-finals against Real Madrid.
Premier League leaders City’s woes were compounded by the loss of midfielder Kevin de Bruyne early in the second half with an apparent ankle injury ahead of a busy end to the season for City who have a Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain and the League Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Meanwhile, manager Ralph Hasenhuettl said a place in the final would rescue Southampton’s season after a disappointing run in the Premier League.
“A cup final can definitely turn things around 100 per cent, it would be a super successful season definitely,” Hasenhuettl told reporters ahead of Sunday’s second semi-final against Leicester .
“When you see what teams are there around — it is for us a big success.”
Southampton, who won the FA Cup in 1976, have not reached the final since 2003, when they lost to Arsenal.
While the Saints reached the last four without conceding a single goal, knocking out holders Arsenal along the way, their league form suffered and they dropped from third to 14th after Hasenhuettl focused on a cup run.
“We had some very good moments this season. We had been very high up in the table for a short term, then we had very big problems with injuries,” Hasenhuettl said.
“Maybe also because we were focusing a little bit on the cup, selecting the strongest side for the cup games — especially in January and February — that cost us a few injuries.”
While most managers have played down the FA Cup in recent years to focus on the Premier League, Hasenhuettl said the competition still held a special place in his heart having tuned in to follow it when he was growing up in Austria.
“This FA Cup is a very traditional competition, there’s a reason why everybody loves it so much,” he added.
“We are always getting called out on how much we’ve won in the Premier League, on how many points we have. The FA Cup is then a little bit behind.”