Chelsea have been knocked out of the League Cup after losing a penalty shoot-out 5-4 to Stoke City following a thrilling 1-1 draw at the Britania Stadium.
Chelsea started on the front foot and almost took the lead in the first few minutes as Costa forced a smart save from Butland in the Stoke goal when he attempted a back hell finish from Oscar’s right sided cross.
The travelling Chelsea fans made their support for their team’s under pressure manager early on as Jose Mourinho’s name rang out from the away end of Britania Stadium. They saw their team miss another chance as Costa ran in from the left and his cut back was almost turned into his own goal by Wollschied, and then again when Oscar had a right foot shot tipped over the bar.
Chelsea’s play generally was much better than it has been in previous weeks- Hazard, Costa and Oscar, reintroduced into the team at the expense of Fabregas, linking up brilliantly on a number of occasions. A bad foul on Zouma did not bring a card for Diouf when it should have done, and Chelsea missed the best chance of the game by far just before the half hour when Ramires was put through by Mikel and put the ball into the side netting when he had taken it round Butland.
An injury to Costa meant the Spain striker was taken off after 32 minutes to be replaced by Remy, something sure to be of the utmost concern to Jose Mouirnho.
For the home side’s part, their best opening came ten minutes before the break when Walters received the ball in the middle of the area and couldn’t finish beyond ex-Stoke ‘keeper Asmir Begovic in the Chelsea goal. Stoke have mainly been limited to shots from distance, but that moment, specifically the way Stoke moved through the Chelsea central defence with relative ease.
It was been the away side, however, that was largely in control of the first half. Hazard had a shot pushed over and Chelsea found the net from the subsequent set piece only for the linesman’s flag to intervene when Terry finished cleverly past Butland from an offside position.
Chelsea were punished for their first half wastefulness as Stoke took the lead just five minutes into the second half. Jonathan Walters, who famously scored two own goals when Chelsea played Stoke in 2012, finished brilliantly from outside the box when found in space by Whelen. The Ireland international scored with a superb right foot volley which Begovic couldn’t get to.
Willian failed to respond with his usual free-kick brilliance when he put a set-piece over the bar just a few minutes later, the foul having been earned by Remy on the edge of the box. Stoke almost added to their lead when Walters again tried his luck from outside the box but this time the ball mercifully went over the bar.
Willian again tried his luck from outside the box but the shot was saved down low. Kenedy was brought on for Baba as Mourinho tried to turn the tie in Chelsea’s favour with an influx of attacking energy. Zouma hit the post, and Kenedy himself had a shot saved with the game entering its final 15 minutes. It became more and more difficult to find space around the area as Stoke sat back to defend their lead, but they did miss another chance to finish the game, again through Walters, who put the ball wide after a counter attack.
Traore, brought on for Ramires, almost equalised with a brilliant shot from distance with Stoke packed inside their own box, and Chelsea were at last rewarded for their efforts in the 92nd minute when Remy finished beyond Butland from close range after Kenedy won a corner on the left. The Blues desperately sought a winning goal late on but were forced to settle for extra-time. Stoke’s Phil Bardsley was sent off for a second bookable offence late on.
Chelsea started the extra-time the better and made the first chance- Hazard putting the ball wide after linking up with Kenedy. Traoe then headed wide from a Willian cross on the left as Chelsea pressed up the pitch in search of what would have been a winning goal with their man advantage on the pitch. They couldn’t and the game went into a penalty shoot-out.
Willian scored Chelsea’s first and Oscar the second as it was 2-2 after two penalties each. Remy and Zouma scored as Chelsea kept up with Stoke but Eden Hazard missed so that the holders went out 5-4.
Despite the result this was a much better game than Chelsea have had in recent weeks. The performance from Oscar should mean he plays against Liverpool instead of Fabregas and the contribution of Kenedy and Traore should also give one optimism for the near future.
CHELSEA – Asmir Begovic; Kurt Zouma, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Baba Rahman (Kenedy, 70); Ramires (Traore), John Obi Mikel, Willian, Oscar, Eden Hazard; Diego Costa (Remy, 32)
Unused Substitutes: Marco Amelia, Papy Djilobodji, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Scorers: Remy (92)
Manager: José Mourinho
STOKE CITY – Jack Butland; Phil Bardsley, Ryan Shawcross, Philipp Wollscheid, Marc Muniesa (Wilson 49); Glenn Whelan, Charlie Adam, Mame Biram Diouf, Ibrahim Affelay (Shaqiri (75), Marco Arnautovic; Jonathan Walters
Unused Substitutes: Shay Given, Steve Sidwell, Stephen Ireland, Peter Odemwingie, Peter Crouch
Scorers: Walters (50)
Manager: Mark Hughes
Referee: Kevin Friend
Venue: Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, UK