Antonio Conte’s substitution of Willian was booed, but the Italian’s selection of Olivier Giroud paid off superbly in the FA Cup semi-final.
Olivier Giroud’s wonderful goal and an Alvaro Morata header earned Chelsea a 2-0 win against Southampton on Sunday and a return to the FA Cup final.
Antonio Conte selected Giroud over Morata in attack and the France forward rewarded that faith with the opening goal in the first minute of the second half.
Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard combined superbly to find Giroud in the box but he still had a lot to do, jinking away from a series of challenges before prodding past Alex McCarthy.
Shane Long wasted a golden opportunity to grab a leveller for Mark Hughes’ men, the Southampton striker’s heavy first touch preventing him getting a shot on goal, while he also saw a penalty shout turned away by referee Martin Atkinson.
Conte’s tactical nous has been questioned in what has been a difficult season but his decision to replace Giroud with Morata with 10 minutes to go proved a masterstroke, Morata heading in a Cesar Azpilicueta cross 88 seconds after his arrival.
The win sees Chelsea advance to a meeting with Manchester United on May 19 and the chance to avenge last year’s defeat to Arsenal in the Wembley showpiece.
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