Chelsea 2-0 Sheffield United: FA Cup quarter-final – as it happened

Last modified: 03: 50 PM GMT+0

A first-half own goal by Oliver Norwood and a late strike by Hakim Ziyech sent Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea into the last four of the FA Cup

Thanks for reading today - I’ll be back for more top footballing action later with Aston Villa v Tottenham. Follow West Ham v Arsenal with Will Unwin, right here:

Here’s that second-half howler by McGoldrick:


David McGoldrick is in the right place but he can't find the target!

Watch #CHESHU LIVE on @BBCOne #bbcfacup

— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) March 21, 2021

To give him his due, he very nearly created a goal with a brilliant run a few minutes later. But that header was the big moment for Sheffield United.

West Ham are beating Arsenal 3-1 at the moment. Follow it live here:

Jacob Steinberg’s match report from Chelsea v Sheffield United is coming up shortly.


Southampton, Manchester City and Chelsea are confirmed semi-finalists in this season’s FA Cup. Leicester take on Manchester United in a little over an hour, and after that, we will know the full lineup for the last four - Chelsea will take on Manchester City.

And that's full-time, we're off to the semi-final!#CHESHU @EmiratesFACup

— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 21, 2021


Tuchel talks: “It was a tough match, we had a good first half where we controlled everything, but second half, we lost control. We were clearly tired now. I could see after 14 matches consecutive, I could ‘feel us’ tired, and a bit of lack of concentration, many little faults, and a strong opponent in the second half ... so we were lucky in the second half to keep the clean sheet. It was not the first time in 14 matches where we were lucky, and we allowed too many chances, but ... it’s important in the end in the cup to go through. This was the target, and we reached it.

“Honestly I could feel it in training, since some days, we feel a bit tired, and a lack of concentration ... it can happen in a game ... I’m happy that we got help from the bench. In the end we have a win.”


Chelsea’s man of the match Pulisic talks to the BBC: “They didn’t make it easy on us. We knew they had quality, and we had to suffer a bit second half. But yeah, it’s a clean sheet, a good performance. We knew it was going to be a bit uncomfortable. Sometimes, you know, there’s going to be a bit of pressure and we just have to defend and be strong as a team and I think we did that today, so in the end, I was happy.

“They’re a good defensive side as well ... we had a couple of chances where we could have done a bit better, but in the end we got the two goals, and that’s a good result. We definitely have a confident bunch of guys ... obviously when you go on a streak like this, we’re feeling really good, we feel like we can beat anyone, so that’s a good feeling.”


Full time! Chelsea 2-0 Sheffield United

Chelsea are into the last four of the FA Cup. Tuchel is 14 matches unbeaten at the start of his tenure. In that run, they have conceded just two goals (one of which was an own goal against Sheffield United in the Premier League). The Blades had a good go in the second half - McGoldrick missed a golden chance to head an equaliser and the substitute Brewster saw a powerful late shot fly wide. But Chelsea got the job done, as they generally seem to do just lately. It wasn’t spectacular by any means, but they played some good stuff, controlled the game in the first half and defended well in the second.


Goal! 90 min+ 2: Chelsea 2-0 Sheffield United (Ziyech)

All over. The Blades were pressing forward and were shortstaffed at the back. Kovacic slides a pass to Chilwell on the counter, who in turn finds Ziyech in bags of space. Ziyech takes a touch, and cracks a low shot into the far corner.

Hakim Ziyech scores Chelsea’s second goal .
Hakim Ziyech scores Chelsea’s second goal . Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters


90 min: Brewster smashes a shot inches wide! He links with Osborn on the left, who bursts into the penalty area. Osborn cuts the ball back. It’s half cleared by the Chelsea defence. Brewster runs on to the loose ball and crashes a right-footed shot which takes a tiny deflection into the side netting! So close!


89 min: Fleck makes a good surging run in a central area and plays in Baldock on the right. Baldock hits a cross - but it’s too deep and no one is there to meet it. Lys Mousset comes on for the visitors in the final minute of normal time ...


87 min: Sheffield United win a throw in Chelsea’s half, which is something. Ziyech goes down injured after a challenge by Baldock, whose left arm was swinging a bit high. Lundstram makes a face as if to suggest it’s timewasting and nothing more by Ziyech. Now Mount goes down injured near halfway.


84 min: James, one of the Chelsea substitutes, makes a dart on the right and crosses for Havertz but it’s cut out. Chelsea come again and work the ball out to James once more, and he scoops a cross to the far post, but it bounces out for a goal kick. Five minutes plus stoppages for Sheffield United to find a goal.


82 min: Tuchel brings on N’Golo Kanté. Pulisic, who has had a very good game, goes off. It looks like the German manager is shutting up shop, is he taking a risk by not pressing for a second goal?


80 min: Into the final 10 minutes. Sheffield United have been pushing Chelsea back in the previous 15 minutes or so, but can they find a winner?


76 min: McGoldrick with a brilliant run on the left! The forward shows Azpilicueta a clean pair of heels with a wonderful bit of skill as he gets to the byline. He crosses low, and Kepa manages to palm it away. Sheffield United are pressing. Rhian Brewster is on, Oli Norwood off. Brewster passes on the instructions from the managerial team after jogging into the action.


75 min: McBurnie comes off, replaced by Oli Burke. Can Burke produce the spark Sheffield United need? To be truthful, Lundstram created the required spark with that excellent cross for McGoldrick, but the chance was passed up, and you sense that will be the big one.


72 min: Gilmour goes off, Hakim Ziyech is on. Hudson-Odoi also goes off with Kai Havertz on. By the way, it was Olivier Giroud and Andreas Christensen who went off earlier, for James and Azpilicueta. No changes, so far, for the Blades but surely they need to introduce some fresh legs?


69 min: McBurnie’s low shot is saved by Kepa! All of a sudden there was loads of space for the forward as a loose ball broke out of midfield. With the Chelsea defence retreating, he gets the ball down and unleashes an effort with his left foot, which is destined for the bottom corner, but Kepa does well to dive to his right and beat the effort out one-handed.


67 min. How. Has. He. Missed? Sheffield United should be level. Lundstram whips in a perfect cross from the right. McGoldrick is well placed to head it, diving forwards, from close range. He tries to put it back across the goalkeeper and into the corner, but mistimes his header, and it skews wide of the far post. That is an absolute sitter.

A glorious chance for Sheffield United!
A glorious chance for Sheffield United! Photograph: Justin Setterfield - The FA/The FA/Getty Images


64 min: McBurnie and McGoldrick try to exchange passes out wide. McGoldrick mis-controls the ball and it bounces out for a throw-in to Chelsea. McBurnie is visibly frustrated, McGoldrick looks a bit sheepish. Is it time for Paul Heckingbottom to shuffle his pack?

62 min: Osborn makes a bright run on the left. He slides a pass to McGoldrick, but the forward has strayed offside. In the past few moments Sheffield United have looked more willing to attack. This is after all a Cup tie, and they are losing 1-0, so they may as well have a bash at it.


58 min: Sheffield United win a free-kick in an advanced area. Norwood swings it in, it beats everyone, and it collected by Osborn on the opposite side of the goal. Hudson-Odoi puts Osborn under pressure, and the Sheffield United man tries a trick to get past his marker, but appears to get it completely wrong. Chelsea then burst down to the other end and win a corner. It looks like Reece James and César Azpilicueta are coming on for Chelsea.


55 min: Pulisic has gone down injured after Enda Stevens dragged his studs down the back of the Chelsea man’s leg in a challenge from behind. It was accidental, insists the commentator, but it looked more accidentally-on-purpose to me. That was a painful one for Pulisic, but he is OK to carry on. Now Zouma fouls McGoldrick from behind and has a little talking-to from the referee. Aside from that Pulisic chance a few minutes ago, the second half has been quiet. Can we have some excitement, please.


52 min: Hudson-Odoi is played in by Pulisic and he’s in plenty of space on the right, at the edge of the penalty area. He drags his studs across the ball, creating the angle for a shot, and hammers an effort which is always rising too fast and flies over the bar. That would have been spectacular, but he snatched at it a touch.


51 min: “As a non-Chelsea fan, I feel compelled to say that I’ve been really enjoying watching Tuchel’s work at Chelsea so far,” writes Adam Kline-Schoder. “Unlike some other teams, Chelsea do not engage in meaningless possession. Although I feel it is fair to say that Chelsea’s attack has not yet fully clicked, I also think that even though the moves don’t always come off they don’t stop trying. They probe, push, and pull the opposition, and it makes it (a) far more interesting for the neutral and (b) all the more tantalising to contemplate the outcome when relationships have been built and those moves start coming off. There’s potential for some lovely football at that club.”

Thomas Tuchel watches from the touchline .
Thomas Tuchel watches from the touchline . Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images


49 min: Mount bends a free-kick wide from about 25 yards. He grimaces. Tuchel keeps his arms folded.

47 min: Chance! Fantastic feet from Pulisic sees him ghost past two or three defenders and he’s one-on-one with Ramsdale, albeit at a tight angle. He shoots low, but Ramsdale again does very well, coming off his line and narrowing the angle even further. Good skill by Pulisic to create that, and a good save by Ramsdale to boot.


Second-half kick-off!

Chelsea are 45 minutes away from a place in the last four of the FA Cup. Sheffield United need a goal or two, what with the score being 1-0 to Chelsea and all that.

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Half-time! Chelsea 1-0 Sheffield United

After another effort from long distance by McGoldrick, which is saved by Kepa, the whistle blows for half-time. An own goal by Oliver Norwood separates the teams. Sheffield United have been good for the most part: organised in defence and hungry to close Chelsea down and deny their attacking players space. Chelsea have been solid and considering Tuchel made nine changes it’s been a decent effort, although far from perfect, and they will hope to add a couple of goals after the break. See you soon.

Sheffield United caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom ushers encouragement.
Sheffield United caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom ushers encouragement. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters


44 min: More good work by Hudson-Odoi, who finds the space to bend a dangerous cross in from the right wing. Pulisic and Jagielka both try to head it, and Jagielka wins.

41 min: Tuchel is pictured in close-up, yet again, muttering darkly to himself. Now Pulisic is suddenly in, one-on-one, after a loose pass by Norwood which is intended for Jagielka, but is underhit! Ramsdale rushes out to make an excellent save after the American nipped in, showing excellent awareness.


39 min: Chelsea try to build from the back. Zouma is sold a little short by a pass from a teammate, and McBurnie tries to barge in and nick the ball, but Zouma uses his body to shield the ball, keep possession and extinguish the danger. Sheffield United have enjoyed virtually nothing in attack up to this point, give or take a couple of corners.


36 min: A succession of fouls by Sheffield United, who are still competing in highly physical fashion. In truth, Chelsea have created little, but they are doing enough. It’s a very Tuchel-esque display thus far. Not exactly a thrill a minute, but controlled, with the attacking wing-backs providing the greatest threat.


32 min: A stat, courtesy of the Beeb: This is the 20th FA Cup quarter-final in the past 30 seasons for Chelsea. Meanwhile, Mount swings a free-kick in to the danger area. Sheffield United manage to clear it. Hudson-Odoi has a go now, crossing to the back stick, but it’s a little too high and the danger is over for the Blades, for the moment at least.


30 min: Chelsea attack down the right with Pulisic and Mount linking up. Pulisic switches the play, Sheffield United manage to recover their defensive shape momentarily and Tuchel’s team retain possession. Gilmour then spots a diagonal run by Hudson-Odoi and curls a fine pass over the top for his teammate, left to right, but the sprinting Hudson-Odoi can’t control it, and it looked like he was just offside, too. Anyway, Chelsea are firmly in control of this.


Goal! 24 min: Chelsea 1-0 Sheff Utd (Norwood OG)

Deadlock broken. A corner drops to Chilwell on the edge of the penalty area. He hits a raking cross-shot, left-footed, back across goal. Norwood dives towards it to try and clear, but there’s plenty of power on the ball and he succeeds only in diverting the ball (which is going wide) into the far corner of the net.

Norwood scores an own goal after a shot from Chilwell.
Norwood scores an own goal after a shot from Chilwell. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters
Pulisic, Chilwell and Emerson celebrate.
Pulisic, Chilwell and Emerson celebrate. Photograph: Justin Setterfield - The FA/The FA/Getty Images


22 min: It’s not exactly end-to-end but it’s a good contest, this. The Sheffield United defenders are busier than a mail-order booze company during lockdown, but they are competing well.


20 min: Some excellent defending-from-the-front by Chelsea sees the Blades get in a little mess and concede a throw-in after trying to play the ball out from defence. That’s a tick on Tuchel’s clipboard, right there.


17 min: Bogle concedes a free-kick in the left-hand corner for a push in Chilwell’s back. It’s a good opportunity, but Mount fluffs the free-kick and fails to clear the first defender at the near post. Sheffield United currently look happy to defend deep, invite Chelsea pressure and look for the odd opportunity on the break, after a period of intense pressing to begin with.


15 min: Defensively the Blades look bang up for this, their shape is excellent. However, Pulisic clips a lovely ball across the field to Hudson-Odoi, who immediately cuts the ball back for Mount to drive a cross into the six-yard box from the right. Sheffield United clear the danger.

11 min: It’s been a very solid start from Sheffield United. They are pressing the ball really well when out of possession, and using the ball nicely when they have it. They win another corner. Tuchel is pictured ranting and raving to himself after another misunderstanding between his players on the pitch.

Cheslea Manager Thomas Tuchel issues instructions to Christian Pulisic.
Cheslea Manager Thomas Tuchel issues instructions to Christian Pulisic. Photograph: Dave Shopland/IPS/REX/Shutterstock


9 min: McGoldrick and Kovacic have a little wrestling match and it ends with Sheffield United winning a corner. Then there is a sight of goal for Jagielka as the corner is swung into the danger area! But his header loops up into the air and is easily gathered by Kepa.

7 min: Hudson-Odoi embarks on a sprint infield from the right. He looks for Olivier Giroud with a low pass but the French striker misread his teammate’s intention and the ball squirts through to the goalkeeper, Ramsdale.

Hudson-Odoi battles with Ben Osborn.
Hudson-Odoi battles with Ben Osborn. Photograph: Dave Shopland/IPS/REX/Shutterstock


6 min: Emerson tries to release Chilwell with a ball over the top, but it’s overhit. Tuchel is pictured on the touchline, sitting with arms folded and chewing gum. Nothing much is happening on the pitch.

3 min: The visitors are lining up, as usual, with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Tuchel loves a wing-back himself and Chelsea are playing 3-4-2-1 with Hudson-Odoi and Chilwell bombing on. There is a neat bit of early work in midfield by Billy Gilmour, who has settled into the match immediately. Both teams looking to feel each other out early on, and nothing resembling a clear chance, despite that early effort from long range by McGoldrick.


1 min: Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick unleashes an early shot on goal from distance. It’s a nice hit but straight at Kepa, who catches.

First-half kick-off!

We’re off. Chelsea are in blue and white, Sheffield United in pink and grey.


The teams are out on the pitch at a sunny Stamford Bridge.

Sheffield United huddle prior to kick-off.
Sheffield United huddle prior to kick-off. Photograph: John Walton/PA


Paul Heckingbottom, the interim Sheffield United manager, has a chat with the BBC: “We’re going to need to be at our best ... we’re under no illusions about how tough it’s going to be. But it’s a great opportunity.”

Now Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel on his decision to give Mason Mount the captaincy (as his predecessor Frank Lampard also did in his final match in charge). “Mason was already captain in one of the FA Cup rounds,” says Tuchel. “Leadership is not a question of age. He has everything he needs to lead the team in this game. I’m happy for him, and I’m sure he will show up.”

As Woody Allen once said, 80 per cent of success in life is just showing up.


Shaky mobile phone footage of Sheffield United getting off their team bus? Yes please!

Bladesmen in the building. 👊#CHESHU 🏆

— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 21, 2021

“I see Chelsea are fielding a weakened team for this match,” writes Rick Harris. “Obviously they feel they have nothing to fear from the Blades and their rather blunt cutting edge. I am hoping for a Portsmouth / Wigan style go-down-to-the-Championship-carrying-the-Cup end to the Sheffield United season. Could we see another Kepa klanger?”

How exactly has Tuchel got Chelsea firing again? Jonathan Wilson takes a closer look:

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has said the London club’s trophy cabinet justifies the high turnover of managers under his stewardship.

Chelsea have had 14 managers since the Russian billionaire bought the club in 2003, with Thomas Tuchel the latest to take over at Stamford Bridge after replacing Frank Lampard in January.

In that period, Chelsea have won 16 major trophies, including the Champions League, UEFA Europa League twice and five Premier League crowns.

“I think the trophies speak for themselves and show what we have been able to achieve, and it’s my goal for us to keep winning trophies and build for the future,” Abramovich told Forbes in an article published on Friday.

“Chelsea has a very rich history, and I feel extremely fortunate to play a part in that. The club was here before me and will be here after me, but my job is to ensure we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future.”

“I think we are pragmatic in our choices. And we are comfortable making the right changes at the right time to ensure we can achieve our long-term ambitions. Those who join understand the objectives on the pitch and the community.” (Reuters)

Phil Jagielka starts today, just four days after the death of his 43-year-old brother, Steve. The interim Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has said the defender has been training as usual, and ‘wanted normality’ before this match. Steve Jagielka’s playing career included spells at Stoke, Shrewsbury and Sheffield United. Condolences to all concerned.

Sheffield United is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player Steve Jagielka – brother of current defender Phil – at the age of 43.

The condolences of all at the Blades are with Phil and the rest of the Jagielka family at this difficult time.

— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 17, 2021


What larks to kick off today’s MBM action. Kick-off at Stamford Bridge is just over 30 minutes away.

From the horse’s mouth, Chelsea’s website - nine changes made by Tuchel:

“In total, Thomas Tuchel brings nine fresh faces in to his starting XI. Kurt Zouma and Mateo Kovacic are the two who keep their place from Wednesday’s win, the Croatian making his 100th start in blue. Kepa is in goal and Emerson is expected to form part of the back three, as he did at Barnsley in the previous round. Andreas Christensen returns from illness and captain Mason Mount from suspension. Olivier Giroud leads the line and there is a place in midfield for Billy Gilmour. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell are the wing-backs.”

It might be interesting / funny to know how they released the wrong team - does anyone know what occurred? Let me know on email or tweet me. Thanks.

Correction on previous line-up tweeted. Mason Mount takes the armband, Kai Havertz makes the bench instead of Mendy #CHESHU

— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 21, 2021


Chelsea team correction

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Kepa; Zouma, Christensen, Emerson; Hudson-Odoi, Kovacic, Gilmour, Chilwell; Mount (c), Pulisic; Giroud.

Subs: Caballero, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Alonso, James, Kanté, Ziyech, Havertz, Werner.


You know what, I think that might be the wrong Chelsea team which has been released by the club. There is some confusion. I am checking ...


Chelsea: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Chilwell, Kanté, Jorginho, Pulisic, Ziyech, Mount, Havertz. Subs: Arrizabalaga, Alonso, Werner, Zouma, Kovacic, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, James, Emerson Palmieri.

Sheff Utd: Ramsdale, Baldock, Jagielka, Stevens, Osborn, Bogle, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, McGoldrick, McBurnie. Subs: Mousset, Lowe, Burke, Foderingham, Brewster, Bryan, Brunt, Gordon, Ndiaye.

Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire)

Our line-up. 🔁

Paul Heckingbottom has made five changes to his side ahead of the FA Cup quarter-final tie against Chelsea.#CHESHU

— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 21, 2021



Thomas Tuchel is doing an excellent job at Chelsea. Since he succeeded Frank Lampard his team are unbeaten in 13 matches including nine wins. They have conceded just two goals, progressed to the last eight of the Champions League, and rejoined the race to qualify for next season’s competition. The last time they conceded was more than a month ago. If there is a quibble, it’s an inability to turn possession into goals, but that should improve as Tuchel’s system becomes more embedded. “We’ll never stop thinking about how to create chances, offensive solutions, where to create spaces and to accelerate our attacks,” Tuchel said on Friday.

And quite apart from the results, it is apparent that Tuchel is a young coach who has a gift for relating to his players, for building positive relationships and fostering a strong team spirit. It is not for the benefit of the cameras that he embraces his players with such affection after a good result. Pundits exchanged concerned glances when Tuchel hauled off the substitute, Callum Hudson-Odoi, in the second half against Southampton last month. The fear was that Chelsea’s infamous player power may might soon see Tuchel hung, drawn and quartered. But maybe players such as Hudson-Odoi lack the arrogance and ego of certain previous Stamford Bridge performers? The decision was explained by Tuchel, accepted by Hudson-Odoi and they moved on.

So who can stop Chelsea? Will it be Sheffield United in today’s FA Cup quarter-final? It looks unlikely – Chris Wilder is gone but there was no positive reaction in the 5-0 hammering by Leicester City last weekend. The Blades remain hampered by injuries and relegation from the Premier League is a certainty. Booking an FA Cup semi-final at the expense of Chelsea would be a tonic, but the form guide overwhelmingly points to Chelsea progress. Team news and pre-match reading coming up.


Luke McLaughlin

The GuardianTramp

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