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Patrick Vieira gives verdict on Crystal Palace’s display against Chelsea – and explains reason for shifting to a three-man central defence

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Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was proud of his side’s efforts despite their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.

The Eagles – finalists in the competition in 2016 – were the underdogs going into the contest but had largely nullified the west Londoners until they went behind on 65 minutes.

Tyrick Mitchell lost possession and there were two touches of fortune from a Chelsea perspective immediately after that with the ball deflecting off the heel of Marc Guehi to sit up for Ruben Loftus-Cheek to drive home, via a slight touch off Joachim Andersen.

Mason Mount ended any doubts about the outcome with a second for the Blues with 14 minutes remaining. Timo Werner slipped the ball inside for the England international to sidefoot past Jack Butland.

Palace might have been able to launch a comeback if Andersen had done better in the 78th minute. Michael Olise’s corner was flicked on by Jordan Ayew but the Danish centre-back could only head off target.

The Eagles did not create much in the final third.

Cheikhou Kouyate’s first-half shot, pushed away by Edouard Mendy – an offside Anderson hitting the post on the rebound – was their other notable attempt.

“We tried to play our best but Chelsea were too good on the day for us,” said Vieira. “We tried to frustrate them and we managed to do that in the first half.

“We tried our best but it wasn’t enough against a really good side.

“Big games like that against those type of teams, when you are in a really good period you have to take those chances and we didn’t score. We had those couple of chances but also a couple of situations where we didn’t find our front two quick enough, so they were closing the gap straightaway. We didn’t always make the right decision but I’m really proud of the team’s approach. In the first half we were brilliant.”

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

Mitchell was consoled instantly by his Palace team-mates after Chelsea’s opening goal.

“He will be okay,” said Vieira. “Those kind of games will build him and how to manage his emotion. The more games he plays like that, the better it will be for him and for the rest of the young players we have.

“The way they moved the ball in the second half we ran quite a lot and at times we got a little bit frustrated. We start putting not so much pressure on the ball and Jorginho starts to get on the ball, it allowed him to make a better decision.

“We had some issues on the right-hand side where Reece [James] was getting on the ball too much. We were suffering because our front two were working really hard. It [bringing on Jordan Ayew and moving to 5-4-1] allowed us to have a midfield four and have a bit more support from the side. But on the other side we dropped a little bit too much and it allowed Jorginho to get a little more on the ball.

“This is the team [Chelsea] that won the Champions League and FA Cup – they are at a different level than us. I’m proud of the way we approached the game and made it difficult for them.

“We have to build from those kind of performances.”

Vieira went with a three-man central defence with Kouyate playing on the right, Andersen in the middle and Guehi on the left.

“It was just to match their front five and not give them the opportunity to run between our normal back four,” said Vieira. “At Selhurst we suffered a lot – they were creating the overload on the side and made it really difficult for us.”

PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD

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