Lukaku strike gives Chelsea shot at Club World Cup

Chelsea will meet Brazilian side Palmeiras in the Club World Cup final after edging past Al-Hilal at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring what proved the only goal of Chelsea’s Club World Cup semi-final against Al-Hilal in Abu Dhabi.   -  AFP

Chelsea will meet Brazilian side Palmeiras in the Club World Cup final after edging past Al-Hilal at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal in the first half.

Without coach Thomas Tuchel on the touchline, after he tested positive for COVID-19, the Blues looked in control in the first half, fully deserving their lead at the break.

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However, Asian champion Al Hilal improved a great deal in the second half, with Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga pulling off several fine saves to keep the opponent at bay.

Chelsea threatened to add a late second, but Lukaku's strike proved to be enough, as it booked its place in the final of a competition it has never won.

 

Tuchel's team started brightly in Abu Dhabi, with Hakim Ziyech, who has forced his way back into the Chelsea side in recent weeks, going close from the edge of the box early on.

Lukaku then saw a powerful strike well saved, before making no mistake from five metres out, after a Kai Havertz cross fell to him off Al Hilal's Yasser Al-Shahrani.

The Blues owed goalkeeper Arrizabalaga, standing in for first-choice stopper Edouard Mendy who has just returned from the Africa Cup of Nations, a great debt as they seemed to tire as the match wore on.

The Spaniard made a fine block to keep out Moussa Marega's effort before the pick of his saves -- a stunning one-handed stop -- prevented Mohamed Kanno from getting Al Hilal back into the contest.

Mason Mount should have made it two late on, but Chelsea saw out the win in relative comfort.

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