Al-Hilal 0-1 Chelsea: Player ratings as Blues progress to FIFA Club World Cup final

Jamie Spencer
Chelsea are through to Saturday's FIFA Club World Cup final
Chelsea are through to Saturday's FIFA Club World Cup final / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Chelsea will face South American champions Palmeiras in the FIFA Club World Cup final after securing a narrow 1-0 semi-final win over Al-Hilal from Saudi Arabia.

Romelu Lukaku put Chelsea ahead at the half hour mark with his first goal in just over a month, but the second half belonged to Al-Hilal and Kepa Arrizabalaga ultimately emerged as the hero because of two vital saves that preserved the lead.

Chelsea dominated possession throughout the match as was to be expected. Hakim Ziyech narrowly missed the target with a swerving early shot, while Lukaku had other opportunities to get on the score-sheet before he actually did.

But Al-Hilal, featuring names and faces familiar to Premier League fans in Odion Ighalo and Matheus Pereira, still posed a threat of their own. Ex-Porto striker Moussa Marega was sniffing around for chances and at one stage fired into the side netting.

Lukaku’s goal was deserved. Kai Havertz did well on the left to keep control of the ball under pressure, playing a cross into the box that Al-Hilal failed to clear. It fell to the Belgian, who couldn’t miss from only a few yards out.

Ziyech and Havertz had more good chances just before and after half-time respectively. The latter saw two efforts blocked in quick succession and the latter clipped the ball onto the post from a narrow angle. Chelsea then felt they should have had a penalty when Andreas Christensen was wrestled to the ground, only for the referee and VAR official to take no action.

With the score still only at 1-0, Marega reminded Chelsea they remained vulnerable when he was played in and forced Kepa into an important save. As Al-Hilal grew in confidence, the goalkeeper then pulled off an outstanding stop soon after when Mohamed Kanno sent a rocket goalward.

Al-Hilal continued to push for an equaliser but in the end ran out of steam.

Chelsea player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Kepa's second half saves kept Chelsea ahead
Kepa's second half saves kept Chelsea ahead / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) - 9/10 - Made two big saves in the second half that preserved the narrow lead and contributed to the win - the second of those was a spectacular parry past the post.

Andreas Christensen (CB) - 7/10 - Good in the air and on the ground. Also unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when he was hauled down.

Thiago Silva (CB) - 6/10 - Important blocks kept Al-Hilal at bay.

Antonio Rudiger (CB) - 6/10 - Ran the risk of giving away a penalty at one stage but the referee ruled it as the German standing his ground.

2. Midfielders & wing-backs

Mateo Kovacic was Chelsea's best midfielder
Mateo Kovacic was Chelsea's best midfielder / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Cesar Azpilicueta (RWB) - 6/10 - Contributed defensively and put in a teasing cross near the end.

Jorginho (CM) - 4/10 - Didn't pass with his usual impeccable accuracy. Withdrawn after just 45 minutes.

Mateo Kovacic (CM) - 7/10 - Covered ground all over the pitch and always seemed to be showing to receive the ball.

Marcos Alonso (LWB) - 5/10 - It seemed like he mostly just lumbered up and down the left without really achieving anything meaningful.

3. Forwards

Romelu Lukaku had a mixed night
Romelu Lukaku had a mixed night / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Hakim Ziyech (RF) - 6/10 - Got into dangerous areas and had multiple strikes but couldn't find the net with any of them. His frustrations were just bubbling up as he was subbed off.

Romelu Lukaku (ST) - 6/10 - Gobbled up a close-range goal after several earlier half-chances had gone begging. Too quiet in the second half.

Kai Havertz (LF) - 7/10 - It was his ball that led to the breakthrough goal. Hit the post early in the second half and was a good source of creativity.

4. Substitutes

Mason Mount rubbed up a few Al-Hilal defenders the wrong way
Mason Mount rubbed up a few Al-Hilal defenders the wrong way / Francois Nel/GettyImages

N'Golo Kante (CM) - 6/10 - Brought on at half-time. Did his usual role of winning the ball back but was far from flawless.

Mason Mount (RF) - 5/10 - Offered fresh attacking impetus but probably should have scored on the counter and was visibly frustrated that things weren't quite coming off for him.

Malang Sarr (CB) - N/A -
Thrown on right at the end.

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