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Pulisic injury ended Chelsea's Cup hopes, not bizarre Kovacic dismissal

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Is it a stretch to argue that Chelsea's FA Cup hopes ended when Christian Pulisic pulled up with a torn right hamstring in the opening moments of the second half?

The score was 1-1, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang yet to make a fool of Kurt Zouma before producing an outstanding match-winning goal, and it was 24 minutes before referee Anthony Taylor showed Mateo Kovacic a second yellow card for having the temerity to win the ball in a 50/50 with Granit Xhaka before brushing boots with the Arsenal midfield.

But Pulisic was Chelsea's main creative outlet and without him they did not register another shot on target.

His opening goal was a neat encapsulation of his form since the restart, the delightful control and cool finish a nod towards a player who is set to become an even bigger star next season. That he started the move with a driving run from the halfway line must not be overlooked either.

To see him depart in tear was a sad ending to such a good debut campaign in English football for the United States star, ending with 11 goals and five assists have started slowly while also missing several weeks before the coronavirus break because of a muscle issue.

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Since the resumption in June he was one of the best players in the country, ascending to a new level and leading to inevitable comparisons with Eden Hazard, the man he ostensibly replaced last summer even though his signing from Borussia Dortmund was confirmed before the Belgian headed to Real Madrid.

Without him Chelsea were poor at Wembley, struggling to find a way past a back three marshalled rather impressively by David Luiz. Pulisic had two of their three attempts on target and despite only lasting half the game more dribbles than anyone.

He will be very much missed against Bayern Munich in next Saturday's Champions League round of 16 second leg, a daunting challenge that has now become pretty much impossible.




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