Chelsea came out of the first leg of their FA Youth Cup Semi Final against Tottenham on Tuesday evening feeling short-changed that they only had a 2-1 advantage to show for their dominance at White Hart Lane.
They sure made up for that on Saturday evening.
A rampant display of attacking saw the Blues run out 7-1 winners on the day, 9-2 on aggregate, and book their place in a record-breaking sixth consecutive Final of the country’s most prestigious Under-18 competition. Seeking to retain the trophy for a fourth year running, they opened the scoring inside four minutes and never looked back, with Iké Ugbo leading the way by grabbing a hat-trick, whilst Trevoh Chalobah, Dujon Sterling, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Juan Castillo each got in on the act too.
Make sure you check out Dan Davies’ match gallery by clicking HERE.
With a larger squad to choose from than this time a week ago, Jody Morris made two changes for the return clash at Stamford Bridge, swapping Jamie Cumming for Jared Thompson between the sticks in goal, whilst George McEachran replaced Hudson-Odoi in attack. Tottenham, needing to force the issue, made three changes; Jack Roles, Reo Griffths and Dylan Duncan coming in for Oliver Skipp, Samuel Shashoua and Keanan Bennetts.
The first goal was always likely to be pivotal; for Chelsea it would provide much-needed breathing room on aggregate, whilst for Tottenham it would restore parity and set the scene for the rest of the contest. When Ugbo swept home from six yards out following Reece James’ excellent cross, with just over three minutes played, it became clear what sort of evening it was going to be.
Not that Spurs didn’t have their moments. A mis-hit pass by Tariq Uwakwe allowed Griffiths to run at goal only for him to hold onto the ball too long and eventually find an offside Kazaiah Sterling, but he himself was then the receipient of a lovely reverse ball but couldn’t beat a sprawling Thompson in the Chelsea goal.
Back at the other end, Castillo and McEachran both made good progress down the right before finding Brandon Austin still in good form after his Tuesday night heroics, but when Chalobah drilled home from six yards out after Mason Mount’s cross from the left to give Chelsea a 4-1 aggregate lead with less than twenty minutes played, it was pretty much over as a contest.
They might have had a slight chance of resurrecting things had they managed to score a penalty awarded midway through the first half, but having picked himself up from Mount’s clumsy challenge, Sterling found Thompson in inspired form, throwing up a powerful left hand to claw away his spot kick.
McEachran could and should have made it three when he was denied by the post after rounding Austin, but it was simply a matter of time. Sterling won another penalty – this time Chelsea’s Dujon – for a foul by Nick Tsaroulla, and without regular taker Luke McCormick on the pitch, Ugbo shouldered the responsibility and calmly tucked his strike down the middle with Austin diving out of the way.
You never say never when it comes to the FA Youth Cup, but a 5-1 deficit had taken the wind completely out of Tottenham’s sails, and they looked a pale shadow of the team they had the potential to be. Sterling should have done better with an early second half chance but was eventually caught by the ever-impressive Chalobah, and where Kazaiah failed, Dujon once again succeeded. Chelsea rallied and muscled their way down the other end to make it 4-0, Castillo’s cross from the left finding his opposite wing-back, who duly dispatched a finish past Austin.
That invited everyone in blue to begin lining up to get their names on the scoresheet; McEachran twice could have done so and perhaps should have, but it was substitute Hudson-Odoi who fancied it the most. He made it 5-0, not long after coming on for Uwakwe in a change that actually bolstered Chelsea’s attacking options, when collecting the ball just inside the Tottenham half before sprinting past half-hearted efforts from the visitors in white and slotting home with the confidence of a player much older than his sixteen tender years.
Ugbo then got the sixth and completed his hat-trick for a competition-high 8th goal on this run to the Final, collecting McEachran’s slide-rule ball, running away from George Marsh’s desperate attempts to trip him up, and finding the bottom corner in front of the Matthew Harding Stand. If there was one blot on the copybook however, it came sixty seconds later, when Thompson could only parry Griffiths’ shot into the path of Roles, who hooked home a consolation and denied the Blues another clean sheet.
Mount and Hudson-Odoi went in search of another goal but Castillo provided the seventh and most-deserved goal of the night for Chelsea, running onto Hudson-Odoi’s clever reverse ball and beating Austin for his first goal since joining from Ajax last summer. He was a force throughout both matches and gave a very good player in Timothy Eyoma a real going-over, coming into his own at a crucial stage of the season.
Barring a minor miracle, it’ll be Manchester City in the Final for a third year running. The Citizens beat Stoke City 6-0 in the first leg of their Semi Final, with the return leg to be played at the bet365 Stadium on April 3rd. Chelsea will have the second leg at Stamford Bridge once again on what promises to be yet another captivating occasion in a competition the club is becoming increasingly synonymous with.
Chelsea: Thompson, James (Guehi 65), T.Chalobah, Grant, Castillo, Uwakwe (Hudson-Odoi 59), Sterling, Maddox, Ugbo (St Clair 70), Mount (c), McEachran
Subs not Used: Cumming, McCormick
Goals: Ugbo ‘4, ’37 (pen), ’68, Chalobah ’18, Sterling ’56, Hudson-Odoi ’62, Castillo ‘85
Tottenham Hotspur: Austin, Eyoma, Tsaroulla (Brown 53), Marsh (c), Tanganga, Dinzeyi, Griffiths (Bennetts 74), Oakley-Boothe, Sterling, Duncan (Skipp 63), Roles
Subs not Used; Whiteman, Shashoua
Goal: Roles ‘70
Booked: Marsh, Roles