David de howler

Goal­keeper hands FA Cup semi-fi­nal vic­tory to Chelsea

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Ja­son Burt chief foot­ball cor­re­spon­dent at Wem­b­ley

There have been a num­ber of sig­na­ture per­for­mances for Chelsea in Frank Lam­pard’s first sea­son in charge – Ajax away in the Cham­pi­ons League, Liver­pool at home in the FA Cup and Manch­ester City in the Premier League all spring to mind – and here was one more.

De­feat­ing Manch­ester United to reach a third FA Cup fi­nal in four years was achieved through some shock­ing gifts from goal­keeper David De Gea, some col­lec­tive mind-freeze from those in red, but also with Lam­pard out­smart­ing his op­po­nents tac­ti­cally, with his team se­lec­tion and mo­ti­va­tion of play­ers.

In other words, Chelsea beat United all ends up and it was hu­mil­i­at­ing for the de­feated.

At the same time, this was Chelsea’s first win over United since the 2018 FA Cup fi­nal, which just hap­pened to be the last time that De Gea played in this com­pe­ti­tion. Of all the ques­tion­able de­ci­sions taken by Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer for this fix­ture, his first-choice ahead of his cup goal­keeper Ser­gio Romero was surely one he did not think would cause con­tro­versy. But so poor was De Gea’s per­for­mance that the 29-year-old’s fu­ture, be­cause of his in­con­sis­tency, has to be in doubt.

This is a long way from be­ing the “world’s best”, as Sol­sk­jaer in­sisted the Spa­niard was still not long ago, and the clam­our to bring back Dean Hen­der­son, and not keep him on loan at Sh­effield United next sea­son, will only in­crease. De Gea should be in his prime but he is in­creas­ingly a li­a­bil­ity while that new four-year deal he signed last year to make him the world’s best paid-goal­keeper, looks a bad call.

United let this one slip away as Chelsea’s first two goals slipped through De Gea’s fin­gers. Even be­fore those howlers, though, Lam­pard’s side should have been ahead as they dom­i­nated a first half that was ex­tended by 12 min­utes be­cause of a wor­ry­ing head in­jury to United de­fender Eric Bailly.

The Ivo­rian was one of three cen­tre-halves fielded by Sol­sk­jaer, who ap­peared overly wor­ried about his team hav­ing played three times in a week, hav­ing had less rest, so went on the de­fen­sive. He tried to counter-at­tack and found out that sim­ply blunted his at­tack as he ap­peared to ask Bruno Fer­nan­des to do it all.

Lam­pard sensed that. He, too, de­ployed a three-man de­fence but with far more in­tent and with the im­pres­sive Olivier Giroud prov­ing too much of a hand­ful for Harry Maguire, who was left ban­daged by his clash of heads with Bailly but will also need his con­fi­dence patch­ing up. The United cap­tain’s tor­rid evening was capped by an own goal, Chelsea’s third, and al­though it meant De Gea was beaten at his near post, it was prob­a­bly the only one he con­ceded where he was not cat­e­gor­i­cally at fault.

There is no way that could be said about the other two goals. In the 56th minute of the first half Cesar Azpilicuet­a, who com­bined well with Reece James through­out, crossed low with Giroud steal­ing in front of Vic­tor Lin­de­lof. Once again Lin­de­lof had shown him­self slow to re­act but still Giroud had only guided the ball goal­wards with the out­side of his left boot and it surely lacked the power to beat De Gea. In­stead it caught him out, with the ball squirm­ing through his fin­gers to trickle over the goal-line.

Af­ter that, United seemed to feel sorry for them­selves.

Bailly was re­placed by An­thony Mar­tial and their shape was bet­ter but they did not give them­selves a chance to re­cover as early in the se­cond half there was an even more hor­ren­dous er­ror with the United de­fence also, again, at fault as Bran­don Wil­liams played a care­less pass in­field which was col­lected by Ma­son Mount, who strode for­ward.

Nev­er­the­less there ap­peared min­i­mal dan­ger, es­pe­cially when Mount’s low shot from 20 yards ap­peared to lack power – only for De Gea to dive to his left but fail to turn the shot away with the ball slip­ping through his hands into the net.

De Gea looked in a daze. At the se­cond-half drinks break he stood apart, with as­sis­tant man­ager Mike Phe­lan speak­ing to him, be­fore he threw his wa­ter bot­tle down and walked back to goal. He was beaten again as An­to­nio Rudi­ger met Mar­cos Alonso’s cross and the ball came off Maguire to go past him. Could he have saved it? Maybe if not at rock bot­tom.

United had some chances be­fore Chelsea sub­sti­tute Cal­lum Hud­son-Odoi caught Mar­tial. Fer­nan­des stepped up and, with a skip, he beat goal­keeper Willy Ca­ballero from the penalty spot.

By now, though, their malaise was com­plete. There would be no cav­alry charge as United slipped to their first de­feat in 19 games in such a limp man­ner. That is not to de­tract from Chelsea, who were ut­terly dom­i­nant and de­served to set up an al­lLon­don fi­nal, and a re­peat of the fi­nale three years ago, against Arse­nal. Lam­pard de­serves the plau­dits; De Gea knows he will re­ceive the brick­bats.

Manch­ester United goal­keeper David De Gea cuts a de­jected fig­ure af­ter he made de­ci­sive er­rors in his side’s 3-1 de­feat by Chelsea in their FA Cup semi-fi­nal at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium yes­ter­day. Chelsea will meet Arse­nal in the fi­nal on Satur­day, Aug 1

His­tory re­peat­ing: De Gea lets Ma­son Mount’s tame 20-yard shot through his grasp for Chelsea’s se­cond

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