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Discipline key to Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final success against Palace – as Tuchel hopes for Loftus-Cheek to increase self-belief

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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel reckoned that discipline – on and off the ball – was key in their FA Cup semi-final victory over Crystal Palace.

South London-raised Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has previously spent time on loan with the Eagles, broke the deadlock in the second half before Mason Mount extended the Blues’ advantage.

Lewisham-born Loftus-Cheek was brought on in the first period after Mateo Kovacic was forced off due to injury.

And Tuchel wants his vital strike to be lift-off for his performances in a Chelsea shirt. He said: “Hopefully a big moment because it was a big moment. Normally he is a very calm and quiet guy. To see him jumping and celebrating a goal is good because he is the opposite of over confidence. We need to instil this confidence into him and his game.

“These are the next steps that he can absolutely feel how much influence he can have. It shows everybody in the stadium his potential – not just us on the training pitch.”

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final, Wembley Stadium, 17 April 2022

Tuchel was full of praise for his players after they bounced back from the disappointment of exiting the Champions League on Tuesday night.

They had expended a huge amount of effort to win 3-2 at Real Madrid but went out 5-4 on aggregate.

“It was very disciplined and very solid,” said Tuchel. “We had to take care of some things to control the counter-attacks of Crystal Palace before they even start their counter-attack.

“We had to close the spaces down while we try to attack. They changed their formation today, which we did not expect. There were not the same spaces to explore that we thought we could explore.

“We played very disciplined on the ball and very disciplined off the ball. It was maybe not the most exciting game to watch but it was challenging for us to keep that focus and discipline up because you know our schedule has been very demanding.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final, Wembley Stadium, 17 April 2022

“From Madrid we have travelled in a lot of different competitions. This is where the credit goes to my team and why I’m very proud we did not lose focus for a second.

“We tried to find a bit different spaces in the second half to overload the middle and maybe accelerate the game towards the box a bit easier. Minute by minute it became a bit more fluid.

“It is one of these games where you have to convert a half-chance or one chance that you have to win it.

“It was hard to do more without taking crazy risks. There were not many other ways to play it, in my opinion.”

PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD

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