2010

Chelsea are FA Youth Cup champions for the first time since 1961, after a brilliant second-half comeback against Aston Villa at a noisy Stamford Bridge.

Goals from Marko Mitrovic (below) and captain Conor Clifford overturned a half-time deficit after Villa forward Kofi Poyser had given his side the lead with a header against the run of play, meaning Chelsea win England's premier youth tournament after a 1-1 draw at Villa Park last Thursday.

Youth Cup

The Blues started this game as they had played in the last, attacking from the off and causing their spirited opponents countless problems, yet a combination of poor finishing and impressive defending saw the away side go in at the break in front.

That all changed when Mitrovic slipped home a Jacopo Sala cross with 25 minutes remaining, and then Chelsea fan Clifford sealed the win with a long range thumper, the type he had already scored in the Youth Cup this season away at Nottingham Forest, a contender for Goal of the Season.

The victory is just reward for a superb showing throughout the Cup run, in which Chelsea have dominated every game they have played.

Opinion after the first leg was that the Blues had been the better side, thrice hitting the woodwork and having another effort cleared off the line, but Jeffrey Bruma's second-half free-kick had been enough to bring the tie back to London level, with all to play for tonight.

Confidence was again high, and Dermot Drummy went with the same 11 that had taken the game to the opposition at Villa Park, Aziz Deen-Conteh recovering fully from the knock he picked up at the end of that game.

Chelsea started this one brightly, the excellent Josh McEachran opening up the visiting defence through the right-hand channel before Jacopo Sala mishit his cross, and then 'Kaby' Djalo shot just over from outside the area.

At the other end a long throw fell to Ryan Simmonds, whose hooked shot was heading towards the bottom corner before fingertips from Sam Walker diverted it wide.

Sala got a near-post delivery spot on just before the 10-minute mark, Marko Mitrovic just missing out a decisive connection, Villa goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist scooping the loose ball up a the second attempt.

A minute later Sala had won a free-kick which was swung in from the right by Gokhan Tore, presenting Bruma with a free header at the far post, a chance he should have converted but nodded wide.

A foul on the young Dutchman brought the game's first booking, presented to Villa's Daniel Devine for a late challenge after Bruma had advanced into the opposition half with the ball. From that dead ball situation the ball eventually reached Sala, whose low cross was again intended for Mitrovic, the lone striker, but again the Swede just failed to convert.

In the 30th minute Chelsea almost scored a brilliant team goal. McEachran beat two men with one turn and fed Kaby, who in turn found Gokhan Tore, the Turk's first-time shot flying over from inside the area.

There was no doubting who was on top, so it came as a major surprise when Villa's Kofi Poyser headed his side in front. Simmonds delivered a cross from the right and the 18-year-old arrived first in front of Bruma, glancing a superb header into the far corner.

All Chelsea were lacking was a goal, Kaby almost brought one with his snappy 20-yard-drive but it was too straight to beat the goalkeeper, and then Bruma, forward again, nearly levelled but his strike rolled just the wrong side of the post.

That was the last chance of a first half that had encouraged plenty but had somehow sent the Blues in behind. They now had 45 minutes to recover the tie.

The second period commenced in much the same way as that which had preceded it, Chelsea on top but Villa busily closing down and making tackles.

Sala danced around two Villa challenges before racing into the area and shooting wide, before Deen-Conteh unleashed a powerful, rising effort that forced Siegrist into an athletic save. Surely a goal would come.

Rohan Ince headed a Sala corner wide on 52 minutes, and then Mitrovic saw his headed effort cleared off the line after the same player had centred.

Finally the Sala-Mitrovic combination did pay off, on 64 minutes.

Youth Cup

Kaby had won possession on the edge of the Chelsea area, and worked the ball upfield via Deen-Conteh and McEachran, whose incisive pass found Sala advanced on the left. The Italian's low cross was perfectly weighted for Mitrovic, who steered home at the near post.

Of course now the impetus was behind the home side, yet Chelsea's attacking play began to grow a little disjointed, chances starting to dry up as extra-time approached.

Samir Carruthers chopped down McEachran as Chelsea broke, earning him a yellow card. McEachran couldn't be kept quiet for too long though. On 82 minutes he beat another two Villa challenges before squaring to Sala in space, his shot parried well by Siegrist.

Extra-time was looking more and more likely, so step forward Conor Clifford to let rip with a trademark piledriver and send Chelsea in front for the first time in the tie.

Youth Cup

Seven minutes remained. Could Villa find a way back?

The answer would be no. In fact it was Chelsea if anybody that looked like adding to their score, first Tore denied by more superb goalkeeping, and then Mitrovic heading high at a corner.

Four minutes of injury time was prolonged by a worrying looking injury to Kaby, who was stretchered off and replaced by George Saville, immediately thrust into the action by winning a challenge in the midfield.

With 100 minutes on the clock referee Kevin Friend finally whistled to signal a memorable success, and hopefully the first of three trophies making their way to Stamford Bridge this season. Cue the celebrations.

Youth Cup

It was agreed prior to tonight's game that the scoreline would also be taken as the result of the second Premier Academy League game between the two sides.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Sam Walker; Billy Clifford, Rohan Ince, Jeffrey Bruma, Aziz Deen-Conteh; Aliu 'Kaby' Djalo (George Saville 90+7), Josh McEachran, Conor Clifford (c); Jacopo Sala, Marko Mitrovic, Gokhan Tore (Milan Lalkovic 88).

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Benjamin Siegrist; Durrell Berry, Daniel Devine, Derrick Williams (Darius Darkin 71), Ellis Deeney; Ebby Nelson-Addy, Richard Blythe (Arsenio Halfhuid 87), Samir Carruthers, Tomos Roberts; Ryan Simmonds, Kofi Poyser.