Chelsea exited the Carabao Cup at the hands of former manager José Mourinho’s Tottenham side on Tuesday evening, following a penalty shootout defeat.
Timo Werner’s first Chelsea goal opened the scoring for Chelsea after 20 minutes, in a first half that they dominated and should have profited from more. Tottenham grew into the game after the break and pressed hard for an equaliser, that they eventually got through Erik Lamela, with seven minutes left on the clock.
Neither side could find a winner before full time in a game that went straight to penalties, where both teams were almost perfect as the first nine penalties were all scored. Mason Mount eventually missed the decisive effort, firing wide as Tottenham qualified for the quarter-finals.
Whilst the team sent out by Frank Lampard definitely wasn’t his strongest starting eleven, the side was full of experienced players, talented youngsters and on paper, it looked better than the side put out by José Mourinho who had already complained about fixture congestion due to the Carabao Cup.
Lampard used the Carabao Cup tie to give full debuts to Ben Chilwell and new keeper Eduoard Mendy, following summer moves from Leicester City and Stade Rennais respectively, with Tomori, Azpilicueta and Zouma completing the defence. Jorginho and Kovacic started in the midfield along with Mason Mount, with Hudson-Odoi on the right, Werner on the left and Giroud up top.
The first ten minutes of the first game of the 4th round of the Carabao Cup passed largely without incident, as Chelsea stroked the ball around well in the middle third and Tottenham sat back into a solid shape, aiming to try and spoil the Blues’ attacking endeavour.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, making only his second start of the season, had a chance to open the scoring after 15 minutes, profiting from a Tanganga mistake and shooting after the ball fell to him in an inviting position inside the area. Unfortunately for Chelsea he could only direct his effort at Lloris in the Tottenham goal, as he would have struggled to stop anything either side of him from that range.
Nonetheless, Lampard’s side kept the pressure up after that sight of goal and just before the 20-minute mark Timo Werner opened his Chelsea account in style. New Spurs signing Sergio Reguillon, who was reported to have been on Chelsea’s radar prior to the move, hardly covered himself in glory as he was robbed of the ball by Hudson-Odoi, who turned and ran at the defence before playing it wide to Cesar Azpilicueta, who was charging down the right-hand side.
Things went from bad to worse for Reguillon as he dived in to try and make up for his error by blocking the cross, however, Azpilicueta cut inside and fed Werner on the edge of the box, who rifled it confidently into the bottom right corner to make it 1-0 in the Carabao Cup tussle.
The German has constantly looked dangerous since his arrival and the only thing that had been missing was a goal, which is sure to be the first of many. Tottenham, being dominated for possession, somehow had a chance to hit back instantly after Werner’s goal. Gedson Fernandes pressed well and won the ball back right on the edge of the box, before Edouard Mendy rushed out and Kurt Zouma got back brilliantly to slide in and avert the danger. Fernandes appealed for a penalty but the referee rightly pointed for a corner after what was a perfect challenge from the Chelsea defender.
Chelsea continued to dominate possession after the opening goal, patiently moving the ball from around the pitch looking for openings.
Despite that it was Tottenham who had the only other real chance in the first half after the goal, forcing a good save from debutant Mendy, who got down low to stop Lamela’s close-range effort. In further encouraging sign for Chelsea fans, the new keeper was up quickly to commandingly claim a loose, looping ball just after the save; signs were pointing to it being a smart bit of business.
On the stroke of half time, the home side were denied what looked to be developing into a threatening counter-attack, as Mateo Kovacic made a tactical foul to stop Lamela’s driving run forward. The Chelsea midfielder took the booking for his team and it looked worth it to prevent a chance for an equaliser right before the break.
The early stages of the second half had a completely different tone to it as Tottenham looked fired up and much sharper.
A Serge Aurier break down the right-hand side left the full-back with time and space to switch the play to the onrushing Reguillon, whose first-time strike needed another good save from Mendy to keep the score at 1-0. Spurs were pushing hard for an equaliser and Steven Bergwijn was beginning to cause problems, with pacey, direct runs in behind opening up spaces for his side.
The Dutchman had two opportunities in quick succession around ten minutes into the second half, picking the wrong pass the first time and being tackled well by Tomori the second time – the warning signs were there for Chelsea.
Just after an hour, Ben Chilwell was replaced by Emerson in Lampard’s first change of the night. It had been a solid display from Chilwell in his first Chelsea start, and more valuable minutes in the tank as he now nears full fitness following the injury he arrived at the club with.
Mourinho laid his cards on the table soon after, bringing on Harry Kane for the final 20 minutes of the game, showing his side’s intent as they looked for a way back into the game. Lampard seemingly responded straight away, replacing Kovacic with N’golo Kanté to assist with keeping Spurs at bay.
Chelsea’s first chance to double their lead fell to goalscorer Werner, after substitute Kanté won the ball back with an excellent tackle that broke to Mason Mount out wide. Mount pulled it back to Werner who had plenty of space in the box, however his powerful strike from twelve yards was saved well down low by Lloris.
Hudson-Odoi was next to have an opportunity to put Chelsea out of sight, and should have done better after latching on to a ball over the top from Jorginho and cutting inside his man, before firing over the bar from the edge of the area. Being more clinical in front of goal is definitely an area for the youngster to work, which will hopefully come in time as he earns more consistent minutes.
Seven minutes from time, when Chelsea had looked as if they had got a hold of the game and were in control again as full time approached, Lamela got the equaliser. Reguillon, somewhat redeeming his errors leading to the Chelsea goal, crossed in well from the left towards Lamela, who had lost his marker Emerson and was free to take a touch and sweep home from close range. With no extra time and penalties now looming, the pace of the game increased in the closing stages as both teams looked to take their fates into their own hands, yet neither could forge any chance and it would be spot kicks to decide the outcome of this Carabao Cup tie.
The shootout presented the chance for Mendy to make himself a hero to the Chelsea fans in just his first game. In terms of takers, the Blues had strong candidates on the pitch, in the shape of Werner, Jorginho and Mount, amongst others.
The home side took first and it was Eric Dier who stepped up. Scorer in a World Cup shootout for England in 2018, Dier looked confident as he made it 1-0 by rolling into the bottom left corner. Tammy Abraham, attempting to exercise his penalty demons from last season’s Super Cup miss against Liverpool, did just that as he scored in identical fashion to Dier – into the bottom left as Lloris went the wrong way.
The man who levelled the scoring for Spurs, Lamela, went next and continued the trend, scoring comfortably in the same bottom left corner to make it 2-1. Chelsea captain Azpilicueta stepped up and equalised for the Blues, making it 2-2 with a powerful drive. Every penalty had been perfect so far, and Tottenham substitute Hojbjerg didn’t let up as he made it 3-2. So often Mr. Reliable from the spot, Jorginho went next for Chelsea and in his hop, skip, shoot style he put it just out of reach of Lloris and tied it at 3-3.
Another Spurs substitute, Lucas Moura, took the next penalty and converted easily as the shootout started to reach the business end as it was 4-3. Emerson stepped forward knowing that if he missed, the home side would have a kick to win it and he didn’t let that affect him as he went down the middle and made it 4-4. Spurs captain Harry Kane, ever-dependable from the spot, had the same responsibility as Emerson, knowing a miss could be decisive but scored as expected to pile the pressure on Chelsea’s final taker.
It was Mason Mount who stepped up knowing a miss would send his side out of the competition, and his powerful effort was misdirected and flew wide of the post, a poor effort that sent his team out of the Carabao Cup.
Despite the Carabao Cup being far from the priority competition for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea this season, they have every right to be disappointed after failing to make their first-half dominance pay off against a weakened, depleted Tottenham line up.
Though a chance at silverware should never be passed up at Chelsea, exiting the Carabao Cup at this stage may help to ease fixture congestion later in the season as the games pile up. Attention now turns back to the Premier League, as the Blues will need to bounce back from two games without a win, at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.
Written by Dom Domaingue (@dmdsport)
Edited by Rob Pratley