Three FA Youth Cups in a row and five in seven years. The Chelsea Academy’s hugely impressive run of success in this competition continues, adding to the two UEFA Youth League wins this season and a year ago.
On a night when an extraordinary thunderstorm cracked away above Stamford Bridge, our Under-18s confidently and comprehensively dampened any hope Manchester City had of avenging their defeat at this stage of the Youth Cup last season.
Schoolboy Dujon Sterling opened the scoring for Chelsea just before half-time with Tammy Abraham’s 26th goal of the season in all competitions extending the lead not long after it.
Fikayo Tomori scored another important goal to make it 3-0 with City’s late goal a mere consolation.
In the only starting line-up change from the impressive 1-1 draw in the first leg, Joe Edwards was able to recall his topscorer in this competition, Abraham, who went into the final with six goals to his name but missed out on Friday due to injury.
Chelsea started brightly that night at City’s Academy Stadium and they did so again here at the Bridge, winning two early free-kicks, both taken by Mason Mount and neither dealt with entirely convincingly by Daniel Grimshaw in the visitors’ goal.
It was on 10 minutes that the young Blues open-play moves began to click. A blistering attack down the flank involving Jay Dasilva and Isaac Christie-Davies promised much but unfortunately did not deliver.
A lot of Chelsea’s good work was down our left but on 19 minutes the pacy Sterling got behind the City defence on the right for the first time to warn of the attacking potential throughout the team. A simple ball over the top then almost caught the City defence napping as the long leg of Abraham made first contact but poked the ball wide. An attack in that mould would later pay dividends.
A popped-out shoulder forced the visitors’ boss Jason Wilcox into an early change, Marcus Wood coming on for the injured Joel Latibeaudiere. Shortly after that switch, City threatened for the first time but Dasilva made an important sliding block in front of goal.
Mukhtar Ali was the game’s first booking as half-time drew near, for a tackle that caught his opponent on the top of the ankle and a solid-looking City by now were making life hard for their hosts as they closed down midfield space well.
On 41 minutes the Blues did cut through with Abraham’s excellent reverse pass opening up the space for Mount, but although the No.10’s shot from the left of the area beat the keeper, it also passed the wrong side of the far post. Dasilva and Mukhtar Ali kept the pressure on with good pieces of play, and Mount dragged another shot wide.
The five minutes leading up to the break were Chelsea’s best so far, and the reward came in stoppage time. Sterling in the end had a tap-in into an empty net but he fashioned that opportunity himself, first by making the most of his marker’s slip as Mukhtar Ali sent the ball forward from deep in his own half, and then by being faster and braver than the keeper in the race for the ball between them.
There was danger at both ends soon after the restart with Abraham’s shot sent wide by a tackle. City had the ball in the net on 51 minutes but Aaron Nemane’s finish was correctly ruled out for offside.
Three minutes later there was clear daylight between the sides as City were powerless to stop Abraham’s header making it 2-0 from a cross floated in by Christie-Davies.
Jay Dasilva stung Grimshaw’s hands with a shot as Edwards’ side looked to match last year’s winning margin and they did so temporarily, from the set-piece that followed, Defender Tomori added to his UEFA Youth League final goal with an emphatic header from Mount’s perfect ball in.
City pulled a goal back inside the final five minutes, an individual effort from the highly rated Brahim Diaz, but nothing could now spoil the party.
As well as the team accomplishment in this victory, there is also an outstanding achievement by captain Jake Clarke-Salter and full-back Jay Dasilva who have won the FA Youth Cup three times, joining only Wilf McGuiness, Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards, Tony Hawksworth and Eddie Colman from Manchester United’s famous Busby Babes of the 1950s in that feat.
Only Man United have won this competition more. Chelsea move joint second behind thier 10 victories, joining Arsenal on seven Youth Cup wins apiece.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Nathan Baxter; Trevoh Chalobah (Josh Grant 77), Jake Clarke-Salter (c), Fikayo Tomori, Jay Dasilva; Ruben Sammut, Mukhtar Ali; Dujon Sterling (Ike Ugbo 83), Mason Mount, Isaac Christie-Davies (Jacob Maddox 64); Tammy Abraham.
Unused subs Jared Thompson, Charlie Wakefield.
Scorers Sterling 45+1, Abraham 54, Tomori 73
Booked Mukhtar Ali 38
Man City (4-3-3) Daniel Grimshaw; Charlie Oliver, Cameron Humphreys-Grant, Tosin Adarabioyo (c) (Dele-Bashiru 76), Joel Latibeaudiere (Marcus Wood 25); Rodney Kongolo, Jacob Davenport, Manu Garcia Davenport, Kongolo, Brahim, Buckley, Nmecha, Nemane (Sancho 64).
Unused subs Haug, Wood, M Garcia.
Scorer Diaz 88
Referee Paul Tierney