thumbnail Hello,
Chelsea 5-3 Fulham (agg 7-6): Solanke the hero as Blues storm back to win FA Youth Cup

Chelsea 5-3 Fulham (agg 7-6): Solanke the hero as Blues storm back to win FA Youth Cup

Getty Images

The England Under-17 striker found the net twice in the dying minutes as the Blues roared back from two goals behind to avenge last year's defeat to Norwich City

By Liam Twomey at Stamford Bridge

Dominic Solanke was the hero as Chelsea came from behind to win the FA Youth Cup, beating west London rivals Fulham after an eight-goal thriller at Stamford Bridge.

In front of the watching Jose Mourinho, Solanke curled his second goal of the evening into the top corner in the dying minutes to give the Blues a 7-6 aggregate win and their second FA Youth Cup triumph in three years.

Moussa Dembele headed the Cottagers in front in the fifth minute, only for a Charlie Colkett penalty and Jordan Houghton strike to briefly turn the tie on its head midway through the first half.

Patrick Roberts then stepped up to score a superb equaliser before setting up Soloman Sambou to fire home from 25 yards and give Fulham a two-goal aggregate cushion at half-time.

But substitute Isak Ssewankambo set up a tense finale when he rifled home from outside the box on 76 minutes, and Solanke levelled seven minutes later before winning it at the death.

Defeat was harsh on Fulham, their talented team superb for much of both legs and itching to win this tournament for the first time in the same week that the club's senior side endured relegation from the Premier League.

But the comeback was testament to the character of Chelsea's youngsters, who avenged last season's final defeat to Norwich City and may yet complete a historic season at youth level with victory in the Under-21 Premier League final against Manchester United later this month.

Chelsea boss Adi Viveash opted to move Jay Dasilva to left-back in place of Ola Aina, while Charly Musonda and Kasey Palmer started on the flanks. Fulham boss Steve Wigley made one change from the side which triumphed at Craven Cottage, with Dean O’Halloran replacing Joshua Smile on the right flank.

The second leg began at the same frantic pace that the first had ended with and the visitors broke the deadlock inside five minutes when O’Halloran – whose set-piece deliveries were so decisive from the bench in the first leg – clipped in a cross which Dembele met at the back post with a stooping header.

Chelsea looked rattled by the early setback and Fulham almost took full advantage on 17 minutes. Mitchell Beeney dropped the ball while attempting to catch a looping Liam Donnelly header and, after a brief scramble, Roberts jinked free and crashed a shot against the outside of the post.

Wigley’s men paid for their profligacy four minutes later as the home side drew level. Musonda, scorer of a late goal at Craven Cottage, executed a neat one-two with Dominic Solanke and raced into the penalty area before being felled by Jordan Evans. Colkett stepped up to send Marek Rodak the wrong way.

That goal was the first of three in just five minutes as the match went into overdrive. Solanke laid the ball off to Houghton, who drilled the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area to put Chelsea ahead on the night and level the tie on aggregate. But Fulham edged in front again almost immediately, as the dazzling Roberts latched onto a classy dink through from Emerson Hyndman to smash the ball into the top corner from a tight angle.

The visitors were back in the ascendancy with Roberts at the heart of their best work, and on 39 minutes the diminutive No.10 slipped Sambou into space to fire a low shot beyond Beeney into the bottom corner from 25 yards. The evening’s fifth goal put Fulham 6-4 up on aggregate and ensured they went into half-time firmly in command.

Fulham might have been out of sight within a minute of the restart when Dembele latched onto a long ball in behind the Chelsea defence but, while his lob evaded Beeney, it also drifted wide of the far post.

Colkett forced a low save from Rodak on 63 minutes as the Blues pinned their opponents back but Fulham remained a threat on the counterattack, with a Roberts pass allowing George Williams to test Beeney.

On 72 minutes Fulham were left cursing again as a deflected Hyndman free-kick flew inches over the crossbar with Beeney beaten, and Ssewankambo set up a nervy finale when he rifled past Rodak four minutes later.

Suddenly Fulham looked nervous and Chelsea took advantage on 83 minutes, with Solanke meeting a deep Colkett cross with a glancing header into the far corner to level the final.

Both sides desperately sought a winner and moments after a low shot from Roberts bounced back off the post, Colkett's clever backheel from substitute Isaiah Brown's low pass found Solanke in space, and the striker finished clinically to break Fulham hearts and send Chelsea into delirium.