Chelsea in Capital One Cup Final
Written By: Robert Halter
After a 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield courtesy of an Eden Hazard penalty and an equalising goal from Raheem Sterling, a place in the Capital One Cup Final at Wembley Stadium was to be decided at Stamford Bridge, towards the end of January. Midway through the first half, the Blues had a penalty appeal turned away, after Martin Skrtel’s trailing leg caught Diego Costa in the area. On twenty six minutes, Reds captain, Steven Gerrard’s threaded pass split open the Chelsea defence and as Alberto Moreno advanced through on goal, his rising shot was pushed away by the long reach of Thibaut Courtois. Three minutes later, a mazy run by Philippe Coutinho, left the Chelsea back line statuette, and it took the outstretched leg of Courtois, to turn the ball behind for safety. In the thirty seventh minute, following a foul by Lucas Leiva on Oscar, from the resulting free kick, Oscar’s strike soared past the left post. Within a minute, Oscar hit back again, but drilled a low drive wide of the mark. As the first half drew to a close, a timely intervention by Kurt Zouma knocked Coutinho out of his stride, as he cut into the box from the left hand side. Following a collision into Blues club captain, John Terry, as a precaution, Cesc Fabregas was replaced by Ramires, at the beginning of the second half. After injury prevailed for Mamadou Sakho, the Reds brought on Glen Johnson to deputise. On fifty eight minutes, after the ball was brought down on the chest by Oscar, it provided space for Eden Hazard to conjure a move, but his effort on goal flashed past the right post. On the hour mark, Simon Mignolet was forced into a goal line clearance to turn away Costa’s clean strike from the edge of the area, after Johnson could only half clear the left wing cross by Filipe Luis. Then on sixty four minutes, a mistake by Jordan Henderson was snapped upon by Costa and it took a desperate interception by Mignolet, to stop the Reds blushes. Three minutes later, Ramires spearheaded a Blues attack but his strike soared over the far post. Liverpool then took off Lazar Markovic as Mario Balotelli took over. Another injury blow to Chelsea resulted in Luis hobbling off with Cesar Azpilicueta his replacement. On eighty seven minutes from Henderson’s floated pass, Sterling could have made a name for himself again but this time Sterling blazed his shot over. The game went into extra time and the deadlock was broken in the ninety fourth minute, when from Willian’s free kick, Branislav Ivanovic sent a solid header crashing into the back of the net, to put the Blues ahead in the tie, following a careless foul by Leiva on Hazard. Six minutes later, the Reds wasted a good opportunity, when Sterling’s left sided cross, flicked over the top of Balotelli and the advancing Henderson in an unmarked position steered his header wide. In the hundred and second minute, a ball across by Balotelli on the right flank resulted in Sterling missing the target, after he dragged his shot wide. Before the second period of extra time resumed, Liverpool brought on Rickie Lambert for Moreno to give the Reds another option in the forward line. But in the hundred and tenth minute, the Blues could not apply the finish to a well orchestrated move between Oscar and Hazard, as Ramires drove his shot across the face of goal. The Blues made a final change near the end as Didier Drogba replaced Willian. In the final piece of action, Ramires was unable to find a clean connection to convert from a mistake by Emre Can, and as Lambert put a strike into the night time sky, it was Chelsea that had the light at the end of the tunnel, after booking a place in the 2015 League Cup Final.