Thomas Tuchel expressed his delight with a "controlled and serious" performance that guided Chelsea into the FA Cup final.

Chelsea reached a third successive FA Cup final, matching the feat achieved by Arsenal between 2000-01 and 2002-03, with a 2-0 triumph over Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace at Wembley.

Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek opened the scoring in the 65th minute with his first goal in any competition since November 2020, before Mason Mount sealed semi-final success with 14 minutes remaining.

The 2021-22 campaign now marks Mount's new-best scoring season, with his 12th strike this term surpassing his 11-goal haul for Championship side Derby County in 2018-19.

Tuchel, who has progressed from each of the 11 semi-final ties in his managerial career, congratulated his players for their efforts amid a hectic schedule, with Chelsea having slipped out of the Champions League after going to extra-time against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

"It was not easy because we played three games in three different competitions," Tuchel told ITV Sport. 

"It is not always easy, very challenging physically, we are the team with the most minutes in Europe I think, it is also challenging mentally.

"I thought the performance was very controlled and very serious, we took care of their counter-attacks. It was hard, the opponent changed system twice, you cannot lose focus for a minute."

Tuchel also reserved special praise for Loftus-Cheek, who scored his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, when he netted in a Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

"He [Ruben Loftus-Cheek] was very, very strong in matches against Southampton and Real Madrid, he would have deserved to start," said Tuchel.

"We knew Ruben would have a big impact off the bench. I am very happy.

"He hid his talent and potential for a long time in his career. He is capable of producing performances that everyone sees on the pitch. For him, it is step by step that he continues to grow in his confidence."

 

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool stand in the way of Chelsea in the final, and it will be the second time the same two sides have competed in the EFL Cup and FA Cup showpiece events in the same season, after Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday met in both competitions in 1992-93.

Tuchel, though, cannot wait to renew his battle with the quadruple-hunting Liverpool, who ran out penalty shoot-out victors in the EFL Cup in late February and defeated Premier League title rivals Manchester City in Saturday's semi-final.

"I am happy to be part of it again, I cannot be more excited and more proud because it is a huge competition. We will be ready," he added.

Chelsea secured their place in a third successive FA Cup final after second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount clinched the 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Wembley on Sunday.

The Blues have made something of a habit of reaching the FA Cup showpiece in recent years, contesting four of the past five, and while this semi-final win was by means vintage, Thomas Tuchel's side looked comfortable once they found the breakthrough.

Neither side showed much inspiration in attack during a cagey opening 45 minutes and there were few signs of improvement initially after the interval.

But a couple of kind deflections helped substitute Loftus-Cheek break the deadlock just past the hour for his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, and Mount's finish soon after ensured the Blues will face Liverpool for the trophy.

It took 35 minutes for a dull first half to come to life as Edouard Mendy did brilliantly to save a goal-bound volley from his Senegal team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate down to his left.

Kai Havertz attempted to win a penalty with a dive at the other end a few moments later, but referee Anthony Taylor saw through his deception and brandished a yellow card.

Kouyate went close again early in the second half when a header flew agonisingly off target and Chelsea capitalised in the 65th minute.

Havertz's cutback was diverted into Loftus-Cheek's path and another touch off a Palace defender took the midfielder's powerful strike out of Jack Butland's reach.

Mount wrapped things up 14 minutes from time, tucking a neat finish into the bottom-right corner after good work from Timo Werner, with Romelu Lukaku's dreadful late miss proving irrelevant.

Reece James was a surprise inclusion in Chelsea's squad for the Club World Cup, travelling to Abu Dhabi on Sunday despite Thomas Tuchel saying he would miss the tournament.

A 23-man Chelsea party headed to the finals after Saturday's nervy 2-1 FA Cup win over Plymouth Argyle.

James was not expected to be among them as he recovers from a hamstring injury, with coach Tuchel saying before the Plymouth game the wing-back required "a couple of weeks" before even returning to training.

The Chelsea boss said James would not travel.

With Edouard Mendy to join his club-mates after playing for Senegal in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final, the Blues are missing only two first-team players.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who is dealing with a minor injury, has not made the journey, while Ben Chilwell's season has been curtailed by a serious knee issue.

For now, however, Chelsea are without Tuchel, who tested positive for coronavirus and intends to link up with his team at a later date.

Dusan Vlahovic is believed to be Juventus' number one transfer target.

However, Juve are not the only club interested in the Serbia international, who is unwilling to re-sign at Fiorentina.

Juve are keeping their options open as they try to reinforced a stuttering squad.

 

TOP STORY – MARTIAL AND ICARDI EMERGE AS JUVE OPTIONS

Anthony Martial and Mauro Icardi are among the alternatives should Juventus miss out on Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Calciomercato.

Juve are interested in Vlahovic, who has also been linked with Manchester City, Atletico Madrid, Inter, Tottenham and Arsenal.

With competition high, United forward Martial, Paris Saint-Germain's Icardi, Benfica star Darwin Nunez, Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal and Sassuolo's Gianluca Scamacca are also being considered by Juve.

 

ROUND-UP

- El Nacional reports Real Madrid are targeting Juve star Federico Chiesa. The Italy international signed from Fiorentina on an initial two-year loan deal and Juve are desperate to make it permanent amid interest from Liverpool.

Manchester United are in no rush to sack embattled manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, per Manchester Evening News. Solskjaer is under pressure following humbling defeats to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City. Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers and Zinedine Zidane have been linked.

- Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks are among Roma's transfer targets, says Calciomercato. Roma are also determined to sign Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach.

After their lucrative takeover, Newcastle United are set to make a transfer splash in January.

The Magpies are winless and second last in the Premier League table this season.

Newcastle remain without a manager, following Steve Bruce's dismissal a fortnight ago.

 

TOP STORY – MAGPIES IN FOR COUTINHO LOAN DEAL

Newcastle United look set to make a move for Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho in January, according to Spanish newspaper Sport.

Financially embattled LaLiga giants Barca are said to be keen to offload the former Liverpool forward, who arrived at Camp Nou from the Reds in 2018.

Barcelona are reportedly ready to accept a loan deal that includes a mandatory option to buy with Newcastle.

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are bullish about signing up Ousmane Dembele to a fresh three-year deal with the option for a further season, claims Mundo Deportivo. Dembele has been linked with LiverpoolManchester United and Juventus.

- Barca are also considering a move to sign Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele on loan, reports Sport. Ndombele has made nine appearances this season.

- Brazilian club Palmeiras have entered the race to sign Manchester United's Edinson Cavani, claims the Daily Express. The Uruguayan signed a one-year contract extension in May.

- Former Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho wants to bring Spurs midfielder Harry Winks and Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Roma, reports Corriere dello Sport.

- Sky Sports reports ex-Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca is still interested in the vacant Newcastle managerial role. Fonseca nearly took over at Tottenham in the off-season. Magpies candidate Unai Emery announced he was staying with Villarreal on Wednesday.

- La Nazione says Tottenham are firmly in the race to sign Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, who has also been linked with Manchester City, Inter, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Juve.

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