Chelsea came in as the clear favorites, and we got to work right away in living up to that billing. But the first half was a rather familiar story in being unable to take full advantage of promising situations and chances.
Fortunately, we did get a lucky bounce off of a defender and Romelu Lukaku made no mistake from point-blank range to give us a slim 1-0 half-time lead. Lukaku had a couple other chances go begging, while Ziyech kept peppering the goalkeeper with shots from distance that lacked the requisite quality to actually result in a goal.
Chelsea kept the pressure up in the second half without finding another breakthrough, while the referee let Al Hilal get away with a red card challenge on Alonso and a clear penalty on Christensen.
With the game staying close, Al Hilal grew into proceedings around the hour-mark. Kepa kept Chelsea in the game with a couple great saves.
Having survived the 15 minutes of strong pressure, Chelsea were able to reestablish a bit more control for the final 15 to see out the result.
On to the final!
- Chelsea back in the 3-4-3 for the first time in some time, though only 3 changes in personnel from the weekend (Silva, Alonso, Havertz back in, Sarr, Mount, Hudson-Odoi out)
- Kanté on at the half for Jorginho, with Chelsea switching more of a 3-5-2 look (Ziyech dropping into midfield). Sarr on late for Alonso to make it more of a 5-3-2, even.
- Silva appeared to suffer an impact to his knee just before half, but evidently was able to rub it off and finish out the game.
- Palmeiras await in Saturday’s final! They beat the Champions of Africa, Al Ahly, 3-1, yesterday.