Eden Hazard fired Chelsea to FA Cup glory against Manchester United as Antonio Conte’s expected farewell ended with a memorable triumph against old foe Jose Mourinho.
The 137th FA Cup final - and first utilising a video assistant referee - was not as cagey as some had feared but was hardly a rip-roaring affair as the Blues looked to atone for last season’s shock finale defeat and a tepid Premier League title defence.
Mourinho came into the match looking to frustrate his former club and write his name into the record books, but Conte - subject of so much speculation regarding his future - emerged triumphant as Hazard’s first-half penalty secured a 1-0 win at Wembley.
Many had fancied United to win a record-equalling 13th FA Cup on Saturday, but the Blues showed a spirit and skill level that has been lacking at times this season.
Tension behind the scenes has led to an uneasy feeling growing at Stamford Bridge, but Conte and all those clad in blue enjoyed a moment to savour as Hazard marked his 300th appearance for the club with a first-half winner.
The 27-year-old earned the spot-kick from which he scored, with United struggling to gather a coherent response and then failing to beat Thibaut Courtois after the break as Paul Pogba wasted the greatest chance late on.
You can see what it means to us, the staff, the fans. This was to save our season. Not in an arrogant way but we have to try and win things.Gary Cahill
It will be a memorable end if, as expected, this proves Conte’s last match as Chelsea boss, whereas Mourinho sees this season’s Premier League improvements tempered by the conspicuous absence of silverware.
Chelsea captain Gary Cahill hailed the Wembley win over United as a “dream come true”.
Cahill said: “You can see what it means to us, the staff, the fans. This was to save our season. Not in an arrogant way but we have to try and win things.
“That’s two in two, a league title and an FA Cup.”
Sheffield-born Cahill won the Premier League title with Chelsea when John Terry was captain, making this cup success even more sweet.
“It’s a dream come true as it’s the first one as captain of the club. This is extra special for me,” he added.