Chelsea break Crystal Palace heart to secure FA Cup final clash with Liverpool | FA Cup

Whoever ends up buying Chelsea will know they could save a lot of money by investing in the club’s thriving academy. It’s the gift that keeps on giving and while there will always be room for expensive foreign signings, there’s no reason for Thomas Tuchel to stop trusting the kids.

The Academy proceeds were crucial to Chelsea reaching their third successive FA Cup final, where they face Liverpool next month. Victory over a toothless Crystal Palace was secured by Mason Mount and it was also a career highlight for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who opened this game by scoring the decisive goal midway through the second half.

Loftus-Cheek is a player who has yet to realize his vast potential. There have been disappointing loans, a series of cruel injuries and times when it seemed his future was far away at Chelsea. But above all, the midfielder still retains Tuchel’s support. The Chelsea manager is pushing Loftus-Cheek, whose goal came as Gareth Southgate watched from the stands, and he’ll want more if the 26-year-old is to earn a place in his squad once the new owners arrive.

It was disconcerting to think that Chelsea’s previous appearance at Wembley had come less than 24 hours after Roman Abramovich announced his fanciful plan to hand control of the club to its directors. So much has happened since that February afternoon, which ended with Kepa Arrizabalaga’s wayward penalty handing Liverpool the Carabao Cup, and there’s still no way of knowing what’s next in this strangest of the takeover sagas. Todd Boehly’s consortium? The group of Lord Coe and Sir Martin Broughton? Or will it be Stephen Pagliuca, recently seen reassuring Atalanta fans of his commitment to their club, who finds himself holding the keys to Stamford Bridge?

Whatever the answer, the only thing that seems certain at the moment is that Chelsea have to trust Tuchel. The German has been a calm voice over the past few weeks and has now guided Chelsea to six major finals.

Mason Mount (centre) scores Chelsea’s second goal against Crystal Palace. Photography: Matt Impey/Shutterstock

The noise and color first came from Palace fans. Red and blue smoke billowed from their side early on and they liked what they saw from their young side improving in the first half. Palace were dropped for possession and were quick to push on the break, Andreas Christensen was forced to step in early when Jean-Phillipe Mateta threatened to break through.

But the opening period was tight and cautious. Unable to select Conor Gallgher against his parent club on the terms of the midfielder’s loan, Patrick Vieira decided to use a back three for the first time this season. The intention was to squeeze space and it made for a dull spectacle, with Wilfried Zaha unable to get rid of Reece James and Eberechi Eze offering few replacements for Gallagher.

As for Chelsea, they looked exhausted after their heroic effort against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu. There were only three changes from Tuchel, who brought in Christensen, Jorginho and César Azpilicueta for Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kanté and Loftus-Cheek, and his side struggled to build momentum early on.

Palace gave nothing. Azpilicueta bungled Chelsea’s clearest opener, volleying wide when it looked easier to drop the ball. The crosses moved away and too many heavy moves failed. It wasn’t until Timo Werner ran down the left and past some Palace defenders after 38 minutes that rising temperature Kai Havertz spoiled the mood by feigning Marc Guéhi’s touch, prompting Anthony Taylor to book the German to dive.

Palace went the closest during the first half. A free kick was aimed at Cheikhou Kouyaté and his ferocious low shot drew an exceptional save from Édouard Mendy. Tuchel had reason to be concerned. Chelsea, who had to replace Mateo Kovacic with Loftus-Cheek midway through the opening period, needed more intensity after the break. They fended off Palace and were about to go forward when Werner ran on goal, forcing Jack Butland into a suffocating save.

The Fiver: Sign up and receive our daily football email.

Vieira was worried. He removed Mateta for Andre Ayew in a bid to improve his team’s attack but it had no effect. Chelsea had taken control and it was no surprise when they took the lead after winning the ball deep in Palace’s half. Havertz dribbled down the right and when his cross hit Guéhi the ball fell invitingly for Loftus-Cheek, who had time and space to send an upward shot past Butland thanks to a light touch from Joachim Andersen .

There was no turning back for Palace, who responded by featuring Michael Olise and Christian Benteke. They couldn’t touch the Chelsea defense and their dream was over with 15 minutes remaining. Werner’s pass from the left was nice and Mount’s first touch was even better. The midfielder was too quick for Palace’s faltering defense and his nice, cool finish in Butland’s bottom left corner ensured Chelsea were back at Wembley to take on Liverpool.