Chelsea are through to the Carabao Cup quarter finals after a dramatic penalty shootout win over a spirited Southampton side.
The two sides had drawn in normal time, before a Will Smallbone miss and a Reece James conversion proved the difference in the shootout.
As you probably could’ve guessed, Chelsea dominated the early stages of the game, and almost took the lead through Saul Niguez in the sixth minute. The midfielder/right-back/winger/wherever he’s asked to play, rose highest from a corner kick to force Fraser Forster into a decent stop.
Next up it was Kai Havertz to nearly open the scoring for the home side – curling a wonderful effort from the edge of the penalty area just wide of the post, before rifling a shot directly at Forster from a tight angle 10 minutes later.
After failing to convert these chances however, Southampton began to (surprisingly) grow into the game, penning Chelsea’s back five into their own penalty area for a period. The Saints so nearly had their reward for this good spell when Stuart Armstrong fired a snapshot from the right hand side of the penalty area. However, after deflecting off of Malang Sarr, the shot was subsequently gathered well by Kepa.
Just before half-time, the Blues undeservedly took the lead, as Havertz brilliantly headed the ball into the bottom right corner from a Hakim Ziyech corner.
And then just after half-time, Southampton deservedly drew level through Che Adams. The Scotland international was able to poke the ball home from two yards after Kepa allowed a Kyle Walker-Peters shot to squeeze under him (obviously).
That goal sparked the game into life, with Havertz almost bagging his brace moments later – being denied by the feet of the brilliant Forster – and Southampton nearly netting their second of the night via Adam Armstrong – who was denied by the arms of Kepa.
With 15 minutes left, Chelsea missed another few chances, with Saul dragging a shot from the edge of the box wide of the post, before seeing a curling shot saved by the Southampton number one about 30 seconds later.
The last chances of the game fell to the visitors, with both Southampton centre-backs seeing headers saved by Kepa – meaning the game would be decided by penalty kicks.
Both teams scored their first penalties of the shootout, before Theo Walcott and Mason Mount saw theirs saved. CHO and Shane Long then scored, putting the pressure on Smallbone to score his penalty in his first appearance since suffering a serious knee injury. The young midfielder lofted his effort over the bar, allowing Reece James to step up to score the winning kick.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) – 6/10 – At fault for the goal. Made a few good saves after that to be fair to him though, and then saved Walcott’s penalty.
Reece James (CB) – 5/10 – Not as comfortable at centre-back as he is at wing-back, but played pretty well considering. Scored the winning spot kick.
Trevoh Chalobah (CB) – 6/10 – The best of Chelsea’s centre-backs.
Malang Sarr (CB) – 4/10 – Lost possession in the lead up to Southampton’s goal.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (RWB) – 6/10 – Lively on the flank. Chelsea probably should’ve got the ball to him a bit more often. Coolly scored his penalty.
Ross Barkley (CM) – 4/10 – Not really ‘Chelsea material’ at this point in his career, is he?
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – 5/10 – When Kovacic plays instead of Jorginho, you are quickly reminded just how good Jorginho is.
Saul Niguez (CM) – 6/10 – Saw a few decent efforts on goal saved by Forster. Probably his best game at the club so far (which isn’t saying much).
Marcos Alonso (LWB) – 4/10 – Delivery from the left just wasn’t good enough. At least he scored his penalty though.
Kai Havertz (ST) – 7/10 – Caused Southampton’s defence a myriad of problems by drifting out left and deservedly scored a goal.
Hakim Ziyech (ST) – 5/10 – Set up the opener from a set piece, but didn’t do much else.
Ben Chilwell – Scored his penalty.
Mason Mount – Missed his penalty.
Fraser Forster (GK) – 8/10 – Made some incredible saves throughout the game, including in the penalty shootout.
Kyle Walker-Peters (RB) – 7/10 – Caused Chelsea problems all night, and proved to be the catalyst for Southampton’s goal.
Lycano (CB) – 8/10 – A rock at the back for Southampton.
Mohammed Salisu (CB) – 5/10 – Sloppier than his partner at the back.
Yan Valery (LB) – 4/10 – Clearly didn’t enjoy playing against CHO.
Nathan Tella (RM) – 3/10 – Worked hard, but didn’t really do anything.
Stuart Armstrong (CM) – 6/10 – Pushed Southampton forward with some fantastic running on the ball.
Ibrahima Diallo (CM) – 6/10 – Roughed up Kovacic whenever he could – hence his booking – and generally had the better of his opposite number all night.
Moussa Djenepo (LM) – 5/10 – He didn’t get on the ball in dangerous areas as much as he’d liked to.
Che Adams (ST) – 6/10 – Nabbed the equaliser after some horrid goalkeeping from Kepa.
Adam Armstrong (ST) – 6/10 – Had a decent effort saved by Kepa in the second half. Scored his penalty in the shootout.
Shane Long – Marked his first game of the season with a goal in the shootout.
Theo Walcott – Came off the bench and missed his penalty.
Oriol Romeu – Added some much needed energy when he came on, and scored his pen.
Will Smallbone – His first outing since a serious knee injury, and you could tell by how far he lifted his penalty over the bar.
Tino Livramento – N/A.