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Fa Youth Cup: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 3 (agg: 3-4)


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Chelsea's youth team put in a brave performance at Villa Park to reach the FA Youth Cup Final for the first time since 1961 where they will face Manchester City.

The Blues had entered the game as slight underdogs following a subdued performance at Stamford Bridge in the first-leg that had finished 1-1 but they showed tremendous spirit with a fantastic performance that will live long in the memory.

Villa had started the game brightly and were attacking with intent, looking to grab an early goal to settle their nerves in front of a crowd of nearly 10,000 at Villa Park. Within the opening minute Nathan Delfouneso had a weak header easily saved by Rhys Taylor but it was Harry Forrester that made the break through.

The midfielder, who enjoyed an impressive game in the corresponding fixture at Stamford Bridge two weeks previous, was a threat throughout and he made an immediate impact on proceedings with the first goal of the game on four minutes.

A hoofed clearance found the youngster mid-way in the Chelsea half and following a lack of communication in the Chelsea defence, he was given licence to run at goal before unleashing a well struck shot from 35 yards that creeped into the bottom corner. It was a clean finish that sent the Villa crowd into raptures, although Taylor would have been disappointed to concede from such a distance.

Far from having a negative affect on Paul Clement's young side, however, the goal sparked Chelsea into life and the Blues demonstrated some of the crisp football that has seen them go so far in this year's competition.

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With their own brand of exciting, attacking football, Chelsea proceeded to exploit gaps in the Villa defence and it wasn't long before Sergio Tejera made the pressure count with a sublime finish after 18 minutes that wouldn't be out of place in the Chelsea first-team on a Saturday afternoon.

Both Miroslav Stoch and Gael Kakuta had endured a quiet opening 10 minutes but it was Kakuta that was instrumental in Chelsea drawing level.

The Frenchman demonstrated a quick change of pace, dropping his shoulder to glide beyond two Villa defenders with ease and he delivered a neat ball into the feet of Tejera who had ghosted expertly into the penalty box.

His first touch could have been better but the Spaniard demonstrated his vast ability to flick the ball onto his left-foot before passing the ball exquisitely into the Villa net to bring Chelsea back into the game.

It was a goal that demonstrated the talent oozing throughout the team and with his confidence flowing, Kakuta's influence on the game grew.

Since his arrival last summer from French club Lens, Kakuta has created a storm at Stamford Bridge this season with some exciting performances and just as he had demonstrated his talents in helping Chelsea draw level, he was soon at it again six minutes later.

Jacob Mellis, playing in the unusual role of centre-back, made an excellent interception to break up a dangerous looking attack from Aston Villa and released Kakuta on the half-way line.

With the Villa right-back over committed, the Frenchman accelerated into the space behind him. As the Villa defence backed off, Kakuta punished them with a low-shot to the goalkeeper's right to put Chelsea ahead. It was a finish in the mould of Salomon Kalou and it fired the Blues into the lead for the first time in the tie.

The young Chelsea players had shown great character to come back from a goal down after Villa had exploded out of the blocks. They were in command and it showed as the likes of Michael Woods and Lee Sawyer in midfield controlled the game's pace, holding the ball well and spreading play to make full use of Stoch and Kakuta's energy out wide.

With home advantage Villa forced their way back into the game and brought the crowd back to life when Forrester scored his second of the night with another excellent finish 15 minutes after the restart.

The Milton Keynes-born man had been by-far Villa's best player and he showed just why, beating two Chelsea defenders before bending a well executed strike beyond Taylor who stood little chance.

Although Villa had drawn level, the Blues remained in control and with the introduction of Adam Philip, scorer of Chelsea's equalising goal in the first-leg late at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea looked the most likely to progress to the final.

And it took Philip just two minutes to score what would become the winning goal on 70 minutes (pictured).

Tejera this time turned provider with an excellent through ball that split the Villa centre-backs. Philip made full use of his fresh legs to break free from his marker and bear down on the Villa goal, showing excellent composure to slot home beneath the advancing Elliot Parish.

With the game running away from them, Villa threw men forward but the Chelsea defence stood firm. Even when a man down for the last 10 minutes following the dismissal of Sawyer, the result never looked in doubt as Clement's words of encouragement from the sidelines kept the team composed.

Villa themselves had a man sent off in the dying seconds when Matthew Roome over committed himself in a challenge with Adam Phillip and with the numbers level once again Chelsea played out the game to secure a memorable victory.

"It was a hard game - a real roller coaster of emotions but I am proud of the players," said Chelsea youth team coach Paul Clement afterwards.

"We played some good football and showed great character. Villa are a good team and it's been a fantastic night for the club and all these young players. They have worked extremely hard to get this far and deserve it."

By Garry Hayes

Chelsea 4-3-3 (r-l): Taylor; Ofori-Twumasi ©, Mellis (Gordon 48), Bruma, van Aanholt; Sawyer, Woods (Philip 67), Tejera; Stoch, Nielsen (Taiwo 80), Kakuta.

Referee Anthony Taylor

Attendance 9, 850

Source: Chelsea FC

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The youth team last night showed a combination of determination and fantastic attacking football to book a place in the final of the FA youth cup. The game was a fantastic one that had everything from great football to sublime goals to 2 sendings off!

After the last outing against Villa the defence was the main worry as we had looked suspect, this wasn't helped in this game by the appearance of attacking midfielder Jacob Mellis playing at centre back! The defence through the whole game looked shakey but thankfully our attacking play was top class.

Player Reviews:

Rhys Taylor: Had a tough night with a pretty poor defence infront of him. Can't be blamed for either goals in truth and he was commanding his defence well. He made some very good saves and in general looked comfortable. 7

Nana Ofori Once again just didn't look comfortable, not as strong in the tackle as you would expect and when he got on the ball had a tendancy to panic. Not sure what has happened to him but he needs to regain his form. 5

Jeffrey Bruma: Along with the rest of the defence had a pretty tough game. According to CTV he has been playing a lot of games recently for the Dutch side including one the night before. Can't remember any big mistakes though. 6

Jacob Mellis: Can't for the life of me think why Mellis and attacking midfielder was played at centre back for the biggest game the Chelsea Academy has had for nearly 50 years! Was brought off at half time, did OK in general though. 6

Patrick Van Aanholt: Started off at left back but moved to centre back for the second half where i think he is a better player. It was a tough game for him but i think he did the best out of all the defenders but still not quite good enough. 6

Lee Sawyer: When i read that Sawyer was in the squad for this game it was obvious he was there to but a bit of bite and strength into the midfield where Villa are a big team. It worked up untill the point he got a bit carried away and flew in 2 footed and got sent off, it could have cost us but it didn't. 6 (would have been a 7 or 8 if it wasn't for the red card but it really did nearly cost us and was a silly challenge)

Michael Woods: Again a pretty decent performance from Woods but i would like to see him having more influence on the games especially at the U18's level. He is recovering his form he lost though and is looking much better for that. 7

Sergio Tejera: Back in the attacking midfield spot tonight, and boy does he look good there. I can understand for his development why he has been playing the DM role but in this role he really is a fantastic player. Great passing and got himself in some great positons. A fantastic goal and one of the best passes you are likely to see to set up Phillip for the winner. 9

Miroslav Stoch: Non existant in this game. Never got the ball at all. Now i don't know if that was down to him being marked out the game because he was such a threat in the last game or his team mates inability to find him. Either way it was a shame because he can give us so so much but in this game - nothing. 6

Gael Kakuta: After a few poor(ish) performances this was Kakuta back to his best. Great skills and was a nightmare for Villa to cope with. Great work and passing to set up Tejera for his goal and the most fantastic run and finish for his own goal. Much better from Kakuta in this game. 9

Morten Nielson: Worked very hard and very well in this game. Typical lone striker play, working incredibly hard and not getting a reward with a goal. Winning his headers and setting others away. A good game from him. 8

Subs:

Ben Gordon: Should have been on from the start, did OK and didn't do too much wrong. Got forward well at times too. 7

Adam Phillip: Super Sub once again! Came on and looked a real real good player. Took his goal fantastically well and showed everyone what he is all about. Will be interesting to see how he progresses. 8

Tom Taiwo: Brought on to add some stability to the team after being down to 10 men. Worked hard and did what he had to do well. 6

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Thats an absolutely fantastic achievement. I wasnt aware of this til i looked here, great result and i cant wait to watch the final on sky. Its been a long time coming. Whatever happens, they have done great to get there. Now they can show what they can do on sky in front of the cameras.

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