LONDON, (Reuters) – Eden Hazard’s first-half penalty proved decisive as Chelsea salvaged their season by beating Manchester United 1-0 in the FA Cup final in what is widely expected to be manager Antonio Conte’s swansong yesterday.
The Belgian’s searing pace earned the spot-kick in the 21st minute after forcing Phil Jones into a desperate lunging tackle and he coolly tucked it away for what proved to be the winner.
Jose Mourinho’s United were dismal in a scrappy first half and although they improved significantly after the break they were denied a record-equalling 13th FA Cup triumph.
Chelsea, whose Premier League title defence fizzled out into a fifth-placed finish, survived several scares but defended superbly as Conte celebrated his first domestic cup honour as a manager having seen his side beaten by Arsenal a year ago.
It was only Mourinho’s third defeat in 15 Cup finals as a manager and his first in an English showpiece final.
In a poignant end to the afternoon, Chelsea captain Gary Cahill was presented with the cup by Jackie Wilkins — wife of former Chelsea and United great Ray Wilkins who died last month.
“This was to save our season, we haven’t had a magnificent season by any stretch. We are used to winning, I’m not saying that in an arrogant way,” said Cahill, whose assured display would have impressed England manager Gareth Southgate.