N’Golo Kante’s second half goal was enough to fire Chelsea into the FA Cup semi-finals and dump out ten-man holders Manchester United.
Both managers opted to field strong sides as the lure of a last-four date at Wembley was up for grabs, while United chief Jose Mourinho made the surprising decision to start striker Marcus Rashford despite pre-match suggestions he was ill.
Chelsea had the brighter of the first half and were handed a numerical advantage 10 minutes before half time when Ander Herrara was sent off for two bookable offences.
And Antonio Conte’s men made it count early in the second half when Kante scored his second goal for the club to send the Blues into the semi-finals along with Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan had the first effort in anger of the game for United in the 12th minute but dragged his left-foot effort wide from just outside the area.
Chelsea went closer on 16 minutes when Eden Hazard picked up the ball just inside the United half, turned Chris Smalling and went on a barnstorming run past several more defenders before lashing a low right-foot effort which David De Gea did well to push wide of the far corner.
The big Spanish shot-stopper produced an even better save from the subsequent corner as the ball dropped to Gary Cahill in the middle of the area and the defender’s low effort was somehow tipped wide.
Hazard again broke into the United area on the half-hour but sliced his angled effort high and wide of the front post.
United were reduced to ten men on 35 minutes when Herrera, who was already on a booking, put in a clumsy challenge on Hazard and referee Michael Oliver was quick to brandish a red card following a second yellow.
Chelsea made their extra man advantage count on 51 minutes when Kante was picked out just outside the area and he hit a sweet right-foot strike which swerved away from the diving De Gea and into the bottom corner of the net.
Rashford almost levelled for United on 59 minutes when he showed Cahill a clean pair of heels before getting his shot off from the left of the area but he was denied by a good stop from Thibaut Courtois.
A minute later Diego Costa should have made it 2-0 from a right-wing corner but made a mess of a free header which went wide via a deflection off his shoulder.
Two minutes later Willian was teed up by Kante on the edge of the box but he curled his effort just over the bar.
On 73 minutes Willian got in down the right of the area and hit a right-foot strike at goal which De Gea could only parry away.
Two minutes later Willian turned provider from the right but Costa somehow missed the low cross just yards out with the goal at his mercy.
United pressed for an equaliser and Antonio Valencia did well before teeing up Paul Pogba, but the France international dragged his effort wide from distance on 82 minutes.
Cesc Fabregas had a great chance to add a killer second in stoppage time but his right foot strike from just inside the area was pushed away by De Gea.