Chelsea retain FA Youth Cup after comfortably beating Manchester City Trevoh Chalobah header and Ike Ugbo volley put the holders ahead at half time Lukas Nmecha gave City hope with a composed finish following Matt Smith pass Callum Hudson-Odoi and Dujon Sterling made sure of trophy with great finishes Late sub Cole DaSilva added a fifth following a goalkeeping mistake
Antonio Conte just couldn’t contain his delight. A broad smile lit up his face and his inner child came out as he reached over to the equally delighted Roman Abramovich for a high-five.
Dujon Sterling had just scored Chelsea’s fourth of the evening, making absolutely sure of the club’s fourth consecutive FA Youth Cup triumph, and both men knew the dynasty was secure.
As he watched the next generation sweep aside Manchester City in this match for the third straight year, it would have especially pleased Abramovich that the gap between the two most lavishly-resourced academies in England appears to be widening.
Chelsea were just so superior, the quality of their goals so high, that their dominance of this prestigious old competition shows no signs of ending.
This was their eighth Youth Cup triumph overall and another next season would equal the accomplishments of the Manchester United ‘Busby Babes’ – featuring the likes of Duncan Edwards and Bobby Charlton – in the 1950s by winning five-in-a-row.
High class goals from Trevoh Chalobah, Ike Ugbo, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Sterling and Cole DaSilva made this second leg a procession and it’s clear Chelsea’s conveyor belt of talent is in overdrive.
City – who had rallied to draw last week’s first leg 1-1 – were simply blown away by Chelsea’s superior speed and skill, plus the audacity of their finishing, even though a Lukas Nmecha goal early in the second-half had offered brief hope.
You sensed that if City were to avoid a repeat of their last two finals here, they’d have to keep it tight early on. What happened was the polar opposite, with Chelsea in the ascendancy from kick-off.
Playing their club hallmark 3-4-3 formation, the holders set an impressive tempo, twice forcing City goalkeeper Aro Muric into early reflex saves through curling efforts from Sterling and Jacob Maddox.
A corner resulted from the second of those and as captain Mason Mount delivered, the lanky Chalobah managed to get the slip on the City defenders and ahead of fellow defender Marc Guehi. His towering header crashed into the net and Jody Morris and his team had their perfect start.
Chelsea were fleet of foot and most effective with direct runs right through the heart of City’s midfield. Both Chalobah and Hudson-Odoi surged unchecked through the middle.
City just hadn’t turned up – their live-wire forwards were muzzled and it’s never a good sign when creative force Jadon Sancho drops back to his own penalty area to get a feel for the ball.
It would soon get worse for the shell-shocked visitors, as Chelsea doubled their lead in stunning fashion.
Sterling surged past Tyreke Wilson down the right and crossed invitingly to the near post. You expected Ugbo to attack it with his head but instead the striker produced an acrobatic overhead kick to leave Muric beaten all ends up.
It continued Ugbo’s run of scoring in every match of Chelsea’s Youth Cup run this season, taking his tally to eight in total in the competition.
The television cameras panned to Antonio Conte, sitting up in the posh seats, with a beaming smile across his face. Owner Roman Abramovich, captain John Terry and legend Frank Lampard were among other luminaries taking a peek at the next generation.
City finally produced something of note on the stroke of half-time when Lukas Nmecha curled in a shot that Jamie Cumming pushed clear. It just hadn’t been good enough.
They were inches away five minutes after the restart when Nmecha brushed the side-netting from a position where he might have done better, but he made no mistake seconds later.
Matt Smith’s ball over the top found him on the shoulder of the last defender Reece James. Nmecha controlled on his chest to create space and calmly rolled the ball home. Game on.
Or maybe not. When Chalobah chipped a ball forward from defence and Hudson-Odoi controlled it with an outstretched left boot, he still had so much to do.
Seemingly oblivious to both sets of players around him, Chelsea’s No 11 set off on a diagonal dribble into the penalty area and then, when the angle seemed impossibly against him, he fired in a postage stamp shot off the inside of the woodwork.
It was a goal worthy of gracing any final at any level and Chelsea had a bit of a cushion once again.
A late fifth, scored by substitute DaSilva from close range after Muric spilled a George McEachran shot, was simply another cherry on the cake.