Chelsea are into the FA Cup semi-final for the fifth time in the past six seasons courtesy of an excellent performance at Middlesbrough and reasonable first-half team goals finished by Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech.
Middlesbrough defeated Manchester United on penalties in the fourth round and scored an extra-time winner to beat Tottenham Hotspur in the fifth round, but Chris Wilder’s side came unstuck against Chelsea on Saturday.
There were five changes to the Chelsea team selected by Thomas Tuchel less than 72 hours after the full-time whistle in Lille and a shift in shape to 4-3-3. Malang Sarr, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ziyech and Lukaku all came in, as did Mount, a half-time sub in France.
Kepa Arrizabalaga was unavailable so Mendy kept his place, as did Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Toni Rudiger. Sarr completed the back four. In midfield, Mateo Kovacic was joined by Mount and Loftus-Cheek, with Christian Pulisic on the left of a front three that also contained Ziyech and Lukaku.
Middlesbrough were unchanged from their midweek win at Birmingham.
Chelsea opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Romelu Lukaku tapped into the empty net. Within 15 minutes, The Blues increased the lead when Hakim Ziyech scored a brilliant goal from the edge of the 18-yard box.
It has been an excellent run in the FA Cup by Middlesbrough, who have been rejuvenated since Chris Wilder took charge on 7 November.
They started this game well and were not afraid to press high against a side that had won seven of their last eight games.
Ultimately, that bold start proved costly as they were caught on the counter for the opener, but their run in the competition and their performances against Premier League opposition will give them confidence as they now switch focus to joining their recent FA Cup opposition in the top flight next season.
Middlesbrough are eighth in the Championship, two points off sixth but with two games in hand over most of those above them.
Thomas Tuchel heavily praised the players’ performances and remained focused on the upcoming games. “We were very focused and very serious. We showed the quality at decisive moments,” the German said.
“The effort was huge and we never let them get a foot into the door after the two early goals. It was a deserved win.”
“Nothing we can do will change the situation and we accept that it’s not in our hands, but what is in our hands is setting an example and staying focused.”