Carabao Cup: Chelsea 2 Tottenham 1 (2-2 on agg, 4-2 on pens)
PUBLISHED: 08:28 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:28 25 January 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
Chelsea answered Maurizio Sarri’s criticism to advance to the Carabao Cup final with a penalty shoo-tout victory over Tottenham after a frenetic clash at Stamford Bridge.
Spurs, who had been seeking a first trophy since the 2008 League Cup, saw their slender first-leg advantage wiped out by a N’Golo Kante strike which went through the legs of Moussa Sissoko and Paulo Gazzaniga.
And Eden Hazard – labelled an “individual player” and “not a leader” by Sarri on Wednesday – netted following a flowing move to give Chelsea a 2-1 aggregate lead.
Fernando Llorente’s header levelled the tie and penalties followed as neither side could find a winner inside 90 minutes, leaving them locked at 2-2 after two legs.
Eric Dier sent Spurs’ third penalty soaring into the Matthew Harding Stand and, after Jorginho put Chelsea in front, Lucas Moura’s weak spot-kick was saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
David Luiz kept his composure to drill low into the net as Chelsea reached the February 24 final with Manchester City, giving Sarri a chance to claim his first managerial silverware. The wait goes on for Mauricio Pochettino.
Tottenham led 1-0 from the January 8 first leg, courtesy of Harry Kane’s VAR-assisted penalty, but were without their talisman for the return.
Dele Alli and Son Heung-min were also absent, while Gonzalo Higuain was ineligible for Chelsea after his arrival on loan on Wednesday.
Ominously for weekend opponents Sheffield Wednesday, Higuain said “see you Sunday” as he was presented to the crowd before kick-off.
Sarri’s attack on his players’ motivation following the meek surrender at Arsenal appeared to have the desired effect, particularly on Luiz and Hazard.
Hazard was singled by Sarri on Wednesday, but, restored to his favoured left side with Olivier Giroud up front, seized the attacking initiative.
Luiz, meanwhile, was full of intensity, rampaging into midfield, playing long, cross-field passes and trying to impose himself physically on Spurs.
Dier was having none of it. The midfielder stopped Luiz in his tracks, although the Brazilian made more of it than necessary.
Pedro’s effort, blocked by Toby Alderweireld, was the closest thing to a goalbound effort until Llorente inadvertently flicked on a Hazard cross for Kante.
The France midfielder, deployed farther forwards by Sarri to accommodate playmaker Jorginho, drilled a shot through a host of bodies. Gazzaniga, continuing in the cup with Hugo Lloris on the bench, should have done better.
Worse was to follow for Spurs when Ben Davies went off injured, with Danny Rose coming on, before Chelsea scored again.
Moments after coming close to creating a goal for Olivier Giroud, Hazard scored.
Freed from the ‘false nine’ role which nullified his threat, Hazard carried the ball from left to right before running into the area to meet Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross. He tucked in his 13th goal of the season and third of the League Cup campaign.
Hazard next surged forwards and was tackled from behind by Alderweireld, his Belgium team-mate, on the edge of the area.
Referee Martin Atkinson was right behind the challenge and inexplicably did not give a foul.
It could be argued Alderweireld should have been sent off as last man, but there was no intervention by the Video Assistant Referee.
There would have been no way back for Tottenham. But instead Pochettino’s half-time comments revived the visitors, who were transformed in the second half and levelled the tie within five minutes.
Rose’s pin-point delivery was met by Llorente, who stooped to head in between poor defending from Emerson Palmieri and Luiz.
Giroud was denied by Gazzaniga and Sarri was then unhappy when Jorginho was booked for a foul on Rose and was cautioned by Atkinson as the tempestuous tie threatened to boil over.
The rivalry was evident in the stands, too. Tottenham supporters chanted the Y word, but Chelsea fans heeded the pre-match warning that anti-Semitic language would not be tolerated.
The pace continued, both sides trying to avoid penalties.
Spurs came closest. Christian Eriksen’s precision pass had too much pace for Llorente, who tried to hit it first time.
Lucas came on for Llorente, his pace providing a different threat, and fired into the side netting following Gazzaniga’s long kick.
Giroud headed wide from Emerson’s cross in the fourth minute of stoppage time and spot-kicks followed.
Hazard’s services were not required as Spurs spurned two of their penalties and Chelsea prevailed.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Hackney Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.