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FA Cup: Pedro’s extra-time winner puts Chelsea in semis

Pedro popped up with a late header to send the Blues into the last-four.

SNS | New Delhi |

Substitute Pedro capitalised on a late Kasper Schemichel error to send Chelsea into the semi-finals of the FA Cup at the expense of Leicester City, with the Blues digging deep to beat the Foxes 2-1 (AET) on Sunday night at the King Power Stadium.

After Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United (both on Saturday) and Southampton had booked their last-four spots, it was left to Leicester and Chelsea to battle it out for the final spot.

Clearly, their 0-3 loss at the hands of Barcelona in mid-week had sapped Antonio Conte’s men of their edge, for the hosts were arguably the more dominant side for most parts of the tie.

Claude Puel’s revitalised Leicester this season and they looked like a side that were in a mood to cause an upset and had it not been for the heroics of Willy Caballero in the Blues goal, the scoreline could well have been in their favour.

With Thibaut Courtois rested for the cup competition, Chelsea’s reserve custodian shone on a rare start and Conte’s men would deliver a sucker punch off a lightning-fast counter late in the second-half.

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Willian, who has been in terrific form of late, left several Leicester players for dead before slipping in Alvaro Morata for a one-on-one with Kasper Schmeichel.

And Morata opened his account for 2018 in style with a smart finish that evaded the Dane’s dive to put the visitors ahead three minutes before the interval.

Despite seeing their side lead, the Blues faithful were concerned as the second-half began for Cesc Fabregas took to the field in place of the ineffectual Tiemoue Bakayoko.

The Frenchman has had a nightmarish debut season in England and on Sunday he didn’t seem like turning things around with yet another shambolic display.

As the match progressed, Leicester bombarded the Chelsea box and would eventually get rewarded for their perseverance when Jamie Vardy bundled in a 72nd-minute equaliser.

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Neither side enjoyed great chances after that, with referee Craig Pawson blowing his whistle for extra-time and at that time, it was anybody’s tie but one could argue the momentum was with the hosts.

However, all their good work was undone when Schmeichel opted to rush in for a routine N’Golo Kante cross but was beaten to it by Pedro to give the visitors the lead in the 105th minute.

Some frantic Chelsea defending followed and Conte’s men survived a tense goalmouth scramble to keep their hopes of silverware alive.