YOUTH CUP FINAL REPORT: CHELSEA 2 NORWICH 3 (AGG 2-4)
A Jeremie Boga goal within the first quarter of an hour looked to have put the Blues in the ascendancy, but an own-goal and a penalty conceded before the interval gave our Under-18s a difficult task to overcome.
Chelsea had chances in both halves, and Norwich keeper William Britt made a couple of important interventions, but the defence of the FA Youth Cup all but ended when the visitors scored on the break late in the second half before Boga netted his second on the night.
Adi Viveash made three changes from the side that narrowly went down 1-0 at Carrow Road in the first leg, with Adam Nditi and Andreas Christensen returning from injury to start in defence, replacing Kevin Wright and Nathan Ake, the latter remaining with the first team squad ahead of Wednesday's Europa League final against Benfica. Ola Aina and Alex Davey made up the starting back four, with Mitchell Beeney continuing between the sticks.
The other change saw John Swift replace Charlie Colkett and he started the game wide on the right with Alex Kiwomya on the left, Jeremie Boga in the middle behind striker Islam Feruz. The visitors were unchanged from the first leg.
Chelsea kicked off in front of an excellent 17,676 Stamford Bridge crowd, shooting towards the Matthew Harding end, and earned the game's first chance just a couple of minutes in. Swift's cutback from the right byline was missed by Feruz but fell kindly to the advancing Loftus-Cheek, though the midfielder's effort on his left foot was blocked before being comfortably gathered by Britt.
Norwich, defending that first-leg lead, first had an opportunity from a corner conceded by Aina, however the young Blues managed to deal with the incoming aerial threat before Nditi found space down the left wing after clever skill by Kiwomya to set him free. The left-back got too much power on his final delivery and it evaded the lurking forwards.
The hosts were enjoying the best of the opening exchanges and possession before the deadlock was broken within the first 15 minutes. Boga embarked on a forward foray that was met with minimal resistance and the Frenchman, invited to shoot, found the bottom corner impressively from 20 yards out.
It was just the start Chelsea needed, levelling the aggregate score at 1-1 to set the tie up enticingly. However the scores weren't level for long. A short corner from the right wasn't dealt with early enough and Nditi turned winger Joshua Murphy's near-post delivery past Beeney for an own-goal.
That sent the travelling contingent of over 2000 into delight in their corner of the Shed, though the visitors were quickly on the back foot as Chelsea sought to regain parity in the tie. A high ball up to Baker in the box fell for Kiwomya, though the first effort was well-blocked and his second was poked narrowly beyond the far post.
The tone was set for the following few minutes as the hosts enjoyed a strong spell, with Baker's right-footed free-kick pushed behind well by Britt before Swift fired over from Aina's cross from the right after a good move, also involving Loftus-Cheek. Feruz then dragged an excellent opportunity wide after a perfect slide-rule pass through from Baker, before the Blues skipper was called into more action down the other end.
Jacob Murphy had sped away after a neat ball over the top by King and looked to have beaten Beeney before the intervention of Baker, who was positioned ideally on the line to deny the visitors another goal.
Yet that third goal in the tie for Norwich did arrive shortly after, in similar fashion to the solitary stoppage-time strike at Carrow Road 14 days previously. Davey conceded possession to King, who he then was judged to have fouled inside the box to concede a penalty, which was duly converted down low into the left corner by skipper McGeehan.
The remaining period of the half was filled with much Chelsea control but little threat to Britt's goal, with Loftus-Cheek's header harmlessly over the bar the most notable action.
There were no changes in personnel from either side, though a few positional tweaks were made by Viveash, including the switch of Kiwomya and Swift on the flanks. Chelsea were in the ascendancy in the opening few minutes and Feruz came close to turning Baker's cross-shot past Britt that fizzed narrowly wide.
Aina then beat Josh Murphy down the right and pulled back a promising cross for Baker, whose effort on the fall was turned round the post by Britt, before Kiwomya dragged a shot wide after fashioning a decent chance for himself.
What turned out to be a crucial point in the match arrived on the hour mark after an inviting ball forward from Swift fed in Feruz one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The Scotland Under-21 international attempted to round the onrushing Britt but was thwarted by an intervening hand before blasting his final effort off target with defenders on the line covering. Good goalkeeping had denied the Blues again.
That missed opportunity seemed to galvanise the visitors, and their supporters behind Britt's goal, as the skies darkened over west London. Baker saw a free-kick chance fly over the bar before Murphy's simple run in between the centre-backs was untracked and the Norwich winger managed to force a decent save behind from Beeney.
Viveash shuffled his pack with three changes in just under 10 minutes, switching to three at the back as he replaced Aina with Charly Musonda in the 72nd minute. However it was Norwich creating the more promising openings, with Randall firing wide from 30 yards after poor ball retention at the back from the Blues.
The Canaries grabbed a killer third goal on the night when Jacob Murphy weaved into the box and fed his twin brother for a simple tap-in from a couple of yards. The Youth Cup was leaving Stamford Bridge for Carrow Road.
As Chelsea searched for an unlikely comeback gaps were left at the back, with the pace and trickery of the Murphy twins a constant headache on the break. Davey blocked Jacob Murphy's goal-bound shot while Musonda managed to track back and made an excellent saving challenge.
As the game headed towards its conclusion the Blues did manage to grab a consolation, Boga instigating a delightful move in the final third before finishing from close range after Musonda had supplied from the right. However it was too little, too late for Viveash's boys to kick-start another comeback.
Norwich held on for their first Youth Cup win since their only previous triumph in 1983.
Chelsea Mitchell Beeney; Ola Aina (Charly Musonda 72), Alex Davey, Andreas Christensen, Adam Nditi (Kevin Wright 69); Lewis Baker (c), Jeremie Boga, Ruben Loftus-Cheek; John Swift (Charlie Colkett 63), Islam Feruz, Alex Kiwomya,.
Unused substitutes Ben Killip, Dion Conroy.
Norwich City William Britt; Cameron Norman, Ben Wyatt, Cameron McGeehan (c), Kyle McFadden; Harry Toffolo, Harry Randall (Harvey Hodd 95), Cameron King (Rod Young 81); Jacob Murphy, Joshua Murphy, Carlton Morris.
Unused substitutes Kevin Lokko, Tyler Reading, Reece Brown.