Chelsea beat Fulham for FA Youth Cup
LONDON -- Chelsea lifted the 2013-14 FA Youth Cup as an incredible two-legged final against Fulham ended 5-3 to the Blues at Stamford Bridge and 7-6 in their favour on aggregate.
The two sides replicated the drama of the first leg that Fulham won 3-2 at Craven Cottage last week, as another five goals were scored in the first half on Monday to put the visitors in control of the tie.
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However, as Steve Wigley's team tired, Chelsea mounted a late turnaround to banish last year's final heartache against Norwich and delight the home faithful after the senior side's search for a trophy this season was all but ended at the weekend.
The away side took the lead after just four minutes when striker Moussa Dembele, who missed a penalty but also scored in the first leg, headed in from a tight angle at the far post following a cross from Dean O'Halloran.
Despite Fulham looking likely to add to their advantage, Chelsea restored parity on the night as Jordan Evans' sliding tackle brought down Charly Musonda in the penalty area, and Charlie Colkett stepped up to send Marek Rodak the wrong way.
It was 4-4 on aggregate just three minutes later after smart hold-up play from Dominic Solanke teed up Jordan Houghton, who arrowed a shot home into the bottom corner, seemingly swinging the momentum back in Chelsea's favour.
However, 60 seconds after Houghton's goal, Fulham netted again. This time, the impressive Patrick Roberts was put through by Emerson Hyndman's chipped pass, and the winger rifled a shot across goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney into the top corner.
The goals did not stop there. Before half-time, Soloman Sambou's low effort from outside the box found the bottom corner to make it 3-2 to Fulham on the night and 6-4 in their favour on aggregate.
Chelsea boss Adi Viveash made a triple substitution at half-time, and it almost paid instant dividends when Isak Ssewankambo burst into the area only to see his effort fizz past the far post.
Rodak had to be alert on the hour mark as he got down well to parry away Colkett's shot from 20 yards out, before, up the other end, Williams was threaded through by Roberts but saw his effort tipped over the bar by Beeney.
With 13 minutes left on the clock, substitute Ssewankambo cut Fulham's lead to just one goal as the Chelsea player's swerving drive whistled in, despite Rodak getting a hand to it.
And the drama kept coming. A tired-looking Fulham were pegged back to 6-6 on aggregate, and 4-3 down on the night, when Colkett clipped in a deep pass that Solanke nodded home. Then, with three minutes of normal time remaining, Fulham's Roberts hit the post, before Dembele's follow-up was saved by Beeney before Andreas Christensen cleared off the line.
Two minutes into injury time, with extra time looming, Chelsea won it. Solanke scored his second of the game, lifting the ball into the roof of the net from inside the area, sparking celebrations in blue but sending Fulham's players to their knees. The loss is another setback for Fulham in a year that has already seen their senior side relegated from the Premier League for next season.