Sun. Jun 26th, 2022

(EPA)

Chelsea reach the final of the Club World Cup, as predicted, but just not in a manner they would have expected.

The European champions were made to work embarrassingly hard against Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal for an underwhelming 1-0 victory, secured by Romelu Lukaku. The fact the striker had again scored – his first in a month and only his second in 2022 so far, the other against Chesterfield – was one of the few positives, but the game mostly showed why Chelsea had at one point considered Al Hilal manager Leonardo Jardim as a potential candidate for the Stamford Bridge hotseat.

There remain some concerns for the team, as the absence of Thomas Tuchel again brought an absence of any kind of conviction against very moderate opponents.

Al Hilal almost followed League One’s Plymouth Argyle in forcing Chelsea to extra-time in successive games, and it might have been even worse had it not been for the inspired form of Kepa Arrizabalaga. One of his stops was brilliant, particularly as he was unsighted. Chelsea’s problems were all too visible. They still look so disconnected in attack – and that despite the return of Kai Havertz – but now that bit looser in defence.

Whether that is just down to the simple effect of the manager again not being there, having had a positive Covid test, remains to be seen. There is some optimism he may return here for Saturday’s final, in the same stadium. Follow analysis and reaction to the match below:

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Romelu Lukaku ends month-long drought to send sloppy Chelsea into Club World Cup final

Chelsea reach the final of the Club World Cup, as predicted, but just not in a manner they would have expected.

The European champions were made to work embarrassingly hard against Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal for an underwhelming 1-0 victory, secured by Romelu Lukaku. The fact the striker had again scored was one of the few positives, but the game mostly showed why Chelsea had at one point considered Al Hilal manager Leonardo Jardim as a potential candidate for the Stamford Bridge hotseat.

There remain some concerns for the team, as the absence of Thomas Tuchel again brought an absence of any kind of conviction against very moderate opponents.

Michael Jones9 February 2022 18:30

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Club World Cup

Chelsea now face Palmeiras in the Club World Cup final. The final takes place on Saturday with another 4.30pm kick off.

Michael Jones9 February 2022 18:27

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Full-time: Al-Hilal 0 – 1 Chelsea

90+3 mins: There goes the full-time whistle! Chelsea did the damage in the first half and had to suffere through some nervous moments in the second as Al-Hilal threatened a resurgence.

The Blues held on to their slender lead though, managed the game expertly in the final 10 minutes and are into the Club World Cup final!

Michael Jones9 February 2022 18:21

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Al-Hilal 0 – 1 Chelsea

90 mins: Three minutes of added time to play. This is better from Chelsea. They’re sending the ball out wide and whipping passes into the Al-Hilal box looking for the killer goal.

Michael Jones9 February 2022 18:18

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Al-Hilal 0 – 1 Chelsea

88 mins: Azpilicueta slides the ball into the box for Mount who chases it down and pulls a pass back into the six-yard box. Lukaku is waiting but the Al-Hilal centre-backs turn the ball out for a corner kick.

Michael Jones9 February 2022 18:15

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Al-Hilal 0 – 1 Chelsea

85 mins: Mount and Shahrani tussle on the right wing as a diagonal ball is played over to the Chelsea midfielder. Mount attempts to keep it in play but gets the last touch on the ball as it rolls over the touchline.

Marcos Alonso is replaced with Malang Sarr for Chelsea.

Michael Jones9 February 2022 18:14

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Al-Hilal 0 – 1 Chelsea

82 mins: Azpilicueta whips a cross into the box and picks out Havertz but he can’t fully bring the ball under control before he’s pounced on. Kante and Rudiger try to keep the attack alive but Kante is dispossessed and Al-Hilal sweep up the pitch.

Inside of the last 10 minutes now, can Chelsea hold on to this lead?

Michael Jones9 February 2022 18:11

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Al-Hilal 0 – 1 Chelsea

79 mins: Chance! Lukaku times a run in behind to perfection and carries the ball into the box. It’s good defending from Jang to sprint back and cut off the angle to goal. Lukaku is forced to play the ball back to Mount who shoots from range but has the effort blocked behind for a Chelsea corner.

Michael Jones9 February 2022 18:08

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Al-Hilal 0 – 1 Chelsea

76 mins: Chelsea kick back into gear and work the ball forward on the left. It’s sent up to Lukaku who feeds Mount into the right side of the box. He takes a touch and shoots but can’t beat Al-Mayouf at the near post.

Better from Chelsea but mistakes haven started to creep into their play. Al-Hilal look confident in possession.

Michael Jones9 February 2022 18:03

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Al-Hilal 0 – 1 Chelsea

73 mins: Hakim Ziyech is taken off and replaced with Mason Mount for Chelsea. The Blues are losing control of the game and need some energy and possession in midfield.

Al-Hilal win a corner and Pereira swings it into the box. Jang Hyun-soo wins the header but puts the effort wide of the near post!

Michael Jones9 February 2022 18:00

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