A five-goal thriller at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Manchester United ended 3-2 to Chelsea in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup semi final.
Chelsea went in at the break 2-0 up, courtesy of two goals from England U17 captain and centre back Nathaniel Chalobah, who was dominant in both defence and attack.
However, like the first team, these young United players do not give up easily and goals from French midfielder Paul Pogba and striker Jesse Lingard gave them hope despite Bobby Devyne restoring Chelsea’s two goal cushion in the 72nd minute.
Chelsea Youth Team Coach Dermot Drummy was happy with the result after the game, insisting that Chelsea would stick to their philosophy of attacking football in the second leg at Old Trafford.
“You can’t go to Old Trafford and defend for 90 minutes, we will go there and play some football,” said Drummy, who revealed that he had received texts of support from first team players including skipper John Terry prior to the game.
“I was very pleased with the performance today and it is a statement of intent to go up there with a one goal lead,” he added.
Chelsea started the first half as the dominant force, with the central midfield trio of Rohan Ince, George Saville and the impressive Josh McEachran bossing possession, giving United little chance to impose themselves on the game.
Despite their dominance, it took Chelsea till the thirtieth minute to break the deadlock. A dangerous in swinging corner from McEachran caused all sorts of problems in the United box helping centre back Chalobah to poke the ball home from close quarters.
Chalobah added a second, and his fifth for the season in the 42nd minute as another corner, this time from George Saville, resulted in the languid centre back twisting his head to flick the ball into the far corner of the goal.
Chelsea, who won the competition last year for the first time in 49 years, looked as if they had one foot in the final, but United appeared after the break rejuvenated and took the game to the reigning champions.
United’s second half dominance paid off in the 56th minute when a Larnel Cole corner was flicked on by Irishman Sean McGinty for Jesse Lindgard to volley the ball into the roof of the net.
In the 72nd minute Bobby Devyne ghosted in at the back post and flashed the ball past the despairing Johnstone to restore Chelsea’s lead and make it 3-1 but Paul Pogba, the driving force for United in the second half had different ideas, towering above the Chelsea defence at the back post to make it 3-2 and give United hope going into the second leg.
Chelsea take a slight advantage into the second leg at Old Trafford in 10 days time where the winner will meet Sheffield United in the final after the Blades beat Aston Villa 3-0 on aggregate in the other tie.