Chelsea won the FA Youth Cup in remarkable circumstances last night, scoring three goals in the last 13 minutes to beat Fulham 7-6 on aggregate.
Dominic Solanke, the 16-year-old Chelsea centre forward, scored the equaliser with 10 minutes left and the winner in stoppage time to complete one of the most dramatic evenings in the history of the competition.
Chelsea, who lost the first leg at Craven Cottage 3-2, did not lead the tie on aggregate here until the very final seconds. They were very briefly 2-1 up last night – 4-4– on aggregate, but by half-time Fulham were 3-2 up on the night and 6-4 on aggregate. That was how the tie stayed, with Fulham missing chances to win it, before Chelsea’s astounding turnaround.
Having made three half-time substitutions, Chelsea had been far more intense in the second half without finding a way through. The comeback began with 13 minutes left when substitute Isak Ssewankambo was unchallenged from 20 yards out and his right-footed shot found the top corner.
Suddenly Chelsea had all the momentum and, three minutes later, Charlie Colkett’s chipped pass was headed in by a jubilant Solanke, setting up extra-time. Fulham could have won it when Patrick Roberts hit the post and Moussa Dembélé had a shot cleared off the line but it was Solanke, in added time, who received Colkett’s back-heel, span, and found the top corner.
Fulham were devastated after an impressive performance which began perfectly. It only took them five minutes to extend their lead from last Monday. Pat Roberts, their best player, burst forwards toward goal. The ball went out to Dean O’Halloran on the right, and his quick cross was met by Dembélé’s powerful header at the far post.
Chelsea surged back into the game as they found two goals in three minutes to draw the game level on aggregate.
Charly Musonda cut in from the right and exchanged passes Solanke on the edge of the box, and was brought down byleft-back Jordan Evans. Colkett put the penalty into the bottom corner.
Two minutes later Chelsea scored again. Jordan Houghton broke forward from midfield and played a sharp one-two with Solanke, taking him beyond Soloman Sambou. Houghton spotted a gap in the far bottom corner and found it perfectly.
The game was back in the balance but Fulham pulled back ahead. Emerson Hyndman scooped a pass over the Chelsea defence, to the right of goal, and from a tight angle Roberts thundered it with his right-foot into the far top corner of the net. Just before the break, Fulham extended their lead. Again Roberts was the creator, flicking the ball neatly to Sambou, who beat found the bottom corner from 25 yards out.
Chelsea made their three changes at the break but for more than half an hour they kept running into Fulham’s red and white shirts.
Chelsea: Beeney; Dabo, Christensen, Clarke-Salter, Dasilva; Houghton, Palmer, Loftus-Cheek, Colkett; Musonda, Solanke. Substitutes not used: Collins, Ssewankambo, Brown, Aina, Christie-Davies.
Fulham: Rodak; Sheckelford, Evans, Donnelly, Burgess; Sambou, O’Halloran, Hyndman, Roberts; Dembélé, Williams. Substitutes not used: Norman, Smile, Baba, Redford, Walker.
Referee: J Moss (West Yorkshire)