Madueke stunner helps spare blushes as Chelsea book FA Cup semis spot

Late goals from Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke spared Chelsea’s blushes as they battled to a 4-2 victory against Leicester, booking their spot in the FA Cup semi-finals.

It was an action-packed, entertaining cup encounter at Stamford Bridge – the first time the two sides had met in the competition since Leicester’s win in the 2021 final at Wembley.

But as has been the case far too often this season, Chelsea let a first-half lead slip through their fingers. Marc Cucurella (13) and Cole Palmer (45+1) had found the net, and Raheem Sterling missed a penalty to further add to the tally.

When is the FA Cup semi-final draw?

The FA Cup semi-finals will take place on the weekend of April 20 – follow the draw on the Sky Sports website and app on Sunday after Man Utd vs Liverpool.

It left Chelsea in a precarious position and Leicester were offered a lifeline as Axel Disasi (51) spooned the ball into his own net. Soon after, a superb curling effort from Stephy Mavididi (62) deservedly levelled for the Foxes.

But they ended up with 10 players after a VAR check on what had initially been a penalty to Chelsea and a yellow card to Callum Doyle. However, the foul on Nicolas Jackson occurred just outside the box, changing the application of the laws, and therefore was upgraded to a red card for the Man City loanee.

Sections of the Stamford Bridge crowd booed both Sterling and Mauricio Pochettino as nerves frayed, but it was then the two substitutes Chukwuemeka (90+2) and Madueke (90+8) – the latter’s a stunning effort – that prevented the game from heading into extra-time and put Chelsea’s name into the hat for the semi-final draw later on Sunday.

How Chelsea battled past Leicester

Cole Palmer performs his trademark goal celebration after giving Chelsea a 2-0 lead against Leicester
Cole Palmer added a Chelsea second just before half-time

After an early Chelsea effort was flicked onto the post, the Blues went ahead inside 13 minutes. A superb run from Jackson carved open the Leicester back line, easily beating Jannick Vestergaard. It was then a simple squared ball for the unmarked Cucurella at the back post to tap in.

But as Leicester began to find their feet, a rash moment from the Abdul Fatawu handed Chelsea a penalty as he tackled Sterling from behind. The Blues forward took the spot-kick himself – rather than Palmer – but it was a tame effort and easily saved by Leicester goalkeeper Jakub Stolarczyk.

Team news headlines

  • Chelsea made two changes. Robert Sanchez came in for Dorde Petrovic in goal, while Enzo Fernandez was not in today’s matchday squad. Mykhailo Mudryk also came in after his fine goal six days ago.
  • Leicester made four changes. Mads Hermansen, James Justin, Yunus Akgun and the injured Jamie Vardy dropped out of the XI. Jakub Stolarczyk, Callum Doyle, Wilfred Ndidi and Patson Daka came in.

Sterling’s afternoon didn’t get any better either when, just before the break, he missed a glaring one-on-one effort. He raced through on goal after a fine Moises Caicedo pass, but fired his shot well wide of the leaping Stolarczyk.

But he did redeem himself somewhat as Chelsea scored a second in the first minute of added time. He raced down the left before squaring the ball for the waiting Palmer, who tucked home from six yards.

Raheem Sterling misses a penalty against Leicester
Raheem Sterling missed a first half penalty, which would have doubled Chelsea’s lead

The Blues’ downfall began in spectacular fashion shortly after the break. Disasi picked up Malo Gusto’s throw-in and attempted to play it back to his goalkeeper. Instead, the pass from some range by-passed Sanchez and rolled into an open net.

Just after the hour and the Foxes were deservedly level. It was some quick feet from Mavididi to find himself some space up against Gusto, before curling into the top corner.

Stephy Mavididi celebrates after equalising for Leicester at Stamford Bridge
Stephy Mavididi celebrates after equalising for Leicester at Stamford Bridge

And the drama kept on coming as Chelsea were initially awarded a penalty in the 71st minute. Doyle clipped Jackson, with the referee pointing to the spot and booking the Leicester defender.

But after a VAR review, the officials correctly instructed that the foul came outside of the box, meaning it would not be a Chelsea penalty, but Doyle was sent off. The resulting free kick was then skied into the stands by Sterling, bringing further ire from the home fans.

Player ratings

Chelsea: Sanchez (5), Gusto (5), Disasi (5), Chalobah (5), Cucurella (6), Palmer (7), Caicedo (6), Sterling (5), Gallagher (7), Mudryk (6), Jackson (7).

Subs: Chukwuemeka (7), Madueke (7), Chilwell (n/a).

Leicester: Stolarczyk (6), Choudhury (6), Faes (7), Vestergaard (7), Doyle (6), Winks (7), Ndidi (6), Fatawu (6), Dewsbury-Hall (7), Mavididi (6), Daka (7).

Subs: Akgun (6), Justin (6), Coady (6).

Pochettino also faced some intense backlash from the stands, but finally made two changes in quick succession to introduce Chukwuemeka and Madueke – with the pair finally breaking Leicester’s resistance in added time.

It was a delicious backheel from Palmer that saw Chukwuemeka fire home the Blues’ third. But the pick of the goals came from Madueke, who went on a fine solo run before curling home a stunning effort, sending Stamford Bridge into raptures.

What’s next?

The FA Cup semi-finals will take place on the weekend of April 20. Follow the draw on the Sky Sports website and app this afternoon following Man Utd vs Liverpool.

Chelsea host Burnley in the Premier League after the international break on Saturday March 30. Kick-off 3pm.

Leicester return to Championship action at Bristol City on Friday March 29, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 12.30pm.

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