A look at the goalscoring odds pre-match would not have suggested that it would be Chelsea’s midfield general N’Golo Kante who would score the decisive strike at Stamford Bridge to take his team to the FA Cup semi-final and earn his, and manager Antonio Conte’s, first club visit to Wembley where the Blues will face London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
However, the 25-year-old earned praise for his all-round display which was so crucial as he bossed the midfield to ensure that the home side were the team to progress by humiliating Paul Pogba with a magnificent display that made it more than clear which of the two midfielders warranted an £89 million fee in the summer.
Kante was strong in the tackle and did not allow Jose Mourinho’s side to string even a handful of passes together in the Chelsea half as he constantly looked to cut out the next pass and apply the pressure on the United midfield and attack.
That led to frustration for the visitors, frustration which spilled over as Ander Herrera picked up two yellow cards for foolish and unnecessary fouls on Eden Hazard in what marked a turning point in the game as Chelsea enjoyed pure domination from that moment on.
Only six minutes into the second half, Kante secured only his second Chelsea goal following in the footsteps of his only previous goal for the club, also against the Red Devils at Stamford Bridge. His fine strike was taken in acres of space just outside the box to fire past a helpless David de Gea who has already made two excellent saves.
The French international’s goal could be one of the most decisive moments of the season as it became clear that despite their dominance, United would not give in and allow Chelsea to overwhelm them to secure the kind of rout witnessed by the Stamford Bridge faithful in October.
Now, there is a very real chance that Kante could go one better on his Premier League victory last season by not only repeating it but by adding an FA Cup winners’ medal to his collection at Wembley in May.
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