Penalty shootout blues at the Bridge
Chelsea 2-1 Spurs (agg 2-2, 4-2 on penalties)
Thu 24 January 2019, 21:56|Tottenham Hotspur
The lottery of the penalty shootout went against us as Chelsea won the Carabao Cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.
After we battled back from a two-goal half-time deficit on the night to make it 2-2 on aggregate, the Blues won 4-2 in the shootout to progress to next month's final against Manchester City.
N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard had given the hosts the upper hand in a first period in which we struggled to create anything meaningful in attack but Fernando Llorente glanced in Danny Rose's cross to make it 2-1 in the second leg and level overall following our 1-0 win at Wembley just over a fortnight ago. We looked more of a threat after that and competed so well all over the pitch, but Chelsea still had the better chances and Hazard and Olivier Giroud were fractionally off-target.
Nevertheless, we were deservedly still right in the tie but after going to penalties at the end of the 90 minutes, Eric Dier hammered over the bar and Lucas Moura was denied by Kepa Arrizabalaga as our Carabao Cup journey ended as it had begun against Watford back in the third round in September - with a tense penalty shootout. This time, though, it wasn't our night.
We left ourselves with an uphill battle at half-time of this second-leg clash after allowing Chelsea too much of the ball and conceding a number of set-pieces in the first period - two of which led to the goals that saw the Blues overturn our 1-0 first-leg advantage. The first, a corner on 27 minutes, saw Hazard deliver to the near post, Cesar Azpilicueta went for it and the ball spilled to the edge of the box where Kante ran onto it and drilled in through the crowded area, goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga completely unsighted with 27 minutes gone.
Hazard was at the centre of almost everything Chelsea were doing in an attacking sense and after Gazzaniga denied Giroud at his near post, the Belgian made it 2-0 on the night with seven minutes left until the interval, collecting Ross Barkley's quickly-taken free-kick, ferrying the ball out to the right through Pedro and Azpilicueta before producing a one-touch finish from the latter's cross inside the box. Chelsea could have been out of sight in first-half added time when Hazard robbed Toby Alderweireld and ran through on goal but the centre-back recovered to make a well-timed tackle from behind and deny his Belgian compatriot.
We wouldn't fall away, though - far from it. Harry Winks, who covered virtually every blade of grass at Stamford Bridge, found Rose in space on the left and Llorente shrugged off David Luiz to convert his delivery with a stooping header less than five minutes into the second period. Gazzaniga denied Giroud at his near post and Hazard fired wide as the challenges continued to fly in from both sides while Christian Eriksen fizzed a superb cross-field ball to Llorente on the counter in the 65th minute, but the big striker just couldn't bring it under his control on the stretch in the box.
Chelsea probed with sporadic attacks but skipper Jan Vertonghen was a man possessed, blocking two shots in the box in the same move before Gazzaniga saved Pedro's strike, while substitute Lucas fired into the side netting following a long kick from our Argentine stopper.
Hazard went close again and Giroud glanced Emerson's cross wide in stoppage time but both teams went into the shootout feeling buoyant - Chelsea after winning on the night and having more chances and us for our staying power in the tie. Unfortunately, we came unstuck. Eriksen and Erik Lamela scored our first two spot-kicks but with Dier and Lucas not so lucky and Chelsea scoring all of their first four, it was curtains in the tournament for another year and a chance to regroup before Sunday's FA Cup tie at Crystal Palace.
The decisive moments ultimately came in the penalty shootout. We'd started well with Eriksen and Lamela converting but Dier went for power with our third kick, only to send it over the bar. Jorginho put the pressure on by scoring Chelsea's third and Lucas was then denied by Arrizabalaga, meaning David Luiz had a kick to win it, which he duly converted.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino praised his team's bravery on a difficult night against our London rivals.
"I’m very disappointed. I thought we competed really well," he said. "We need to feel proud about our performance and proud of the players. They need to be congratulated by myself and everyone because we were so brave and we played really well in the second half, that was brilliant.
"In the first half, until we conceded, I thought we were in control. I’m disappointed because I think we deserved more. We tried, we fought and all the people must be proud about the team."
Reaction on Spurs TV
Chelsea 2-1 Spurs (agg 2-2, 4-2 on penalties)
Chelsea (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta (c), David Luiz, Rudiger, Emerson, Jorginho, Kante, Barkley (Kovacic 81), Pedro (Willian 75), Giroud, Hazard. Substitutes (not used): Caballero, Ampadu, Alonso, Hudson-Odoi, Piazon.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga, Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen (c), Davies (Rose 33), Dier, Winks, Sissoko (Sanchez 80), Eriksen, Lamela, Llorente (Lucas 68). Substitutes (not used): Lloris, Walker-Peters, Skipp, Nkoudou.
Spurs - Eriksen - scored
Chelsea - Willian - scored
Spurs - Lamela - scored
Chelsea - Azpilicueta - scored
Spurs - Dier - missed
Chelsea - Jorginho - scored
Spurs - Lucas - saved
Chelsea - David Luiz - scored
Goals: Chelsea - Kante 27, Hazard 38; Spurs - Llorente 50.
Yellow cards: Chelsea - Jorginho 53, Kante 56, Azpilicueta 66; Spurs - Sissoko 73.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London.
Weather: Light cloud, light winds, four degrees.