Manchester City will face Wigan Athletic in the 2013 FA Cup final after defeating Chelsea in a scintillating semi-final at Wembley Stadium.
Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero's goals either side of half-time proved to be the difference, despite Demba Ba halving the deficit with 25 minutes left.
City were in debt to stand-in goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon who dived at the feet of Juan Mata before saving well from Ba in the second half as the Blues launched wave after wave of attacks in the closing stages.
But City, who could lose Aguero for a significant period of time after a reckless two-footed lunge on David Luiz late on, held firm to book their place in a second FA Cup final in three years.
With both sides having fallen away in the title race, the semi-final represented the only chance for both sides to rescue some domestic pride from the campaign.
City, having not conceded in the entire run to the last four, began with Pantilimon in goal once again ahead of Joe Hart, while Chelsea left stalwarts John Terry and Frank Lampard on the bench.
The league champions began where they left off against Manchester United a week ago as they camped in the Blues half in the opening stages, Petr Cech making a brilliant reaction save from Aguero's poked effort.
Chelsea were showing little in the way of attacking intent, with Vincent Kompany's header off the line from Eden Hazard's volley the closest they came and with Yaya Toure's influence swelling, City hit the front with 10 minutes of the first half remaining.
Nasri stormed into the Chelsea area, exchanged passes with Aguero, but when the Frenchman attempted to find the ex-Atletico Madrid forward once again, the deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta fell his way, and he tucked the ball away over the onrushing Cech.
Within two minutes of the second half the 2011 winners put one foot in the final as Gareth Barry's chipped cross found Aguero, who swivelled away from Branislav Ivanovic to head in off the post.
Fernando Torres was introduced with 25 minutes remaining; replacing John Obi Mikel, and it coincided with Chelsea halving the deficit as Ba smashed home after City failed to deal with a long Ryan Bertrand pass.
The seven-time winners now had the momentum and twice in the next five minutes they almost leveled the tie. Hazard first fed Mata who attempted to round Pantilimon but was denied by the Romanian stopper.
City's last line of defence came to the rescue once again as Hazard pick-pocketed Gael Clichy, but Ba was denied a second.
Aguero's sickening two-footed challenge on Luiz, which went unpunished by referee Chris Foy, summed up City's late frustrations but Roberto Mancini's side were able to hold out, despite late appeals by Torres for a penalty.