Soccer

Chelsea takes advantage of David De Gea's miscues to reach F.A. Cup final

AP

At least David De Gea was spared having a crowd inside Wembley to witness his latest mistakes in the Manchester United goal.

Chelsea benefited from from De Gea's errors in a 3-1 win over United and will be returning to the national stadium on Aug. 1 to face Arsenal in an all-London F.A. Cup final.

De Gea's first mistake came in the 11th minute of first-half stoppage time. Olivier Giroud's close-range deft touch from Cesar Azpilicueta's cross was pushed into his own goal by De Gea.

United, which was rocked by Eric Bailly being hospitalized with a first-half injury to his head, returned to the field early for the start of the second half but was just as sloppy.

Diving to his left, De Gea let Mason Mount's long-range strike go through his gloves. There was shared United culpability for the 46th-minute goal since Brandon Williams gave the ball away around the halfway line with a misplaced pass that Mount seized on.

"David knows he should have saved the second goal but that’s done now,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. "It’s hard for a keeper to make amends, apart from David making two or three fantastic saves after.

"But you see Brandon … probably feels a bit responsible and the rest of the half he was absolutely outstanding.”

It summed up United's misfortune that the third goal in the 74th came from captain Harry Maguire accidentally turning the ball past De Gea at the near post when under pressure from Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger.

Usually Sergio Romero plays in goal for United in the F.A. Cup. De Gea hadn’t played in the competition since the 2018 final when Chelsea beat United.

With three years remaining on De Gea's contract, United has a quandary over the future of one of its highest-paid players who was once considered one of the world's top goalkeepers.

United has often been able to relay on winning penalties, but even earning a 19th spot kick of the season — converted by Bruno Fernandes in the 85th after Anthony Martial was fouled by Callum Hudson-Odoi — could not spark a late comeback.

It means Frank Lampard's first season as Chelsea manager will end with a cup final. It will be a harder route to a second final in August, with Chelsea trailing Bayern Munich 3-0 in the Champions League round of 16.

"We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves," said Lampard, who won the F.A. Cup four times as a Chelsea player. "But we can certainly enjoy the performance and the result.”

In this pandemic-delayed conclusion to the season, which prevents fans attending games, Solskjaer is also chasing continental glory through the Europa League with United.

Chelsea and United will be hoping to secure Champions League spots in the upcoming final week of the Premier League season — and not be relying on winning continental competitions to qualify.

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