Chelsea strolled to a 2-0 win in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final with rivals Tottenham.
Antonio Conte’s return to Stamford Bridge was not a happy one as he saw his side outfought and outplayed from start to finish, with plenty of work to do if they’re to mount a second-leg comeback.
Chelsea made the best possible start and took a fifth-minute lead when Marcos Alonso intercepted a loose pass from Japhet Tanganga to Emerson Royal, and the Spaniard set through Kai Havertz to slot past Hugo Lloris, with Davinson Sanchez unable to clear the ball off the line.
While the hosts had the lion’s share of possession, they weren’t creating much in way of clear cut chances, but they didn’t need to in order to double the lead half an hour later. Tanganga failed to clear a Chelsea free-kick, heading the straight into teammate Ben Davies and ricocheting into the net.
The returning Romelu Lukaku saw a tame header sail just wide of Lloris’ goal shortly before the interval and Chelsea went into the break two to the good.
Spurs’ first shot came from a free-kick just after half-time, with Harry Kane forcing Kepa Arrizabalaga into a low save.
Hakim Ziyech failed to really trouble Lloris when he was given the freedom of west London to shoot, while substitute Tanguy Ndombele fired over from the edge of the Chelsea area.
Spurs continued trying (and often failing) to make a game of it but the hosts continued making the better chances, with Timo Werner failing to lift the ball over Lloris after being found by a wonderful Ziyech through ball.
With stoppage time approaching, Bryan Gil came off the bench and created Tottenham’s best chance, weaving past Christian Pulisic and picking out Kane, but the striker couldn’t convert from close range.
But Chelsea held on to take a two-goal lead back to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next Wednesday and have one foot in the final after a dominant first-leg display.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) – 5/10 – Had very little to do and still made a meal of things, losing an aerial duel to 5ft9 Lucas Moura.
Cesar Azpilicueta (RB) – 7/10 – Chelsea flittered between a back three and back four, but Azpilicueta fulfilled both roles diligently.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 8/10 – Completely pocketed Kane with ease. The England captain didn’t have a sniff.
Malang Sarr (CB) – 7/10 – Thrown back in at the deep end and stayed afloat.
Marcos Alonso (LB) – 8/10 – Not for the first time, Spurs had no answer for Alonso’s marauding runs and menace going forward.
Saul Niguez (CM) – 8/10 – After a half-season failing to resemble a footballer, Saul put in a worthy performance tonight.
Jorginho (CM) – 7/10 – Could have wilted coming up against an aggressive Spurs midfield pairing but rose above it and played his usual game.
Hakim Ziyech (RM) – 8/10 – Doubled up as a wing-back when Chelsea shifted into a back five. Looked more like the Ziyech that tormented Europe with Ajax a couple of years ago.
Mason Mount (AM) – 7/10 – The glue guy. Fluttered all over the pitch tidying things up and keeping play going.
Kai Havertz (LM) – 6/10 – Scored a goal but wasn’t particularly spectacular in the 40 minutes that followed as he was replaced at the break.
Romelu Lukaku (CF) – 5/10 – Didn’t look sharp on his return to the lineup, though caused Spurs problems when he dropped deep and into the channels.
Timo Werner (LW, 46′ for Havertz) – 6/10 – His movement and pace caused Spurs issues. His shooting did not.
Mateo Kovacic (CM, 73′ for Mount) – 6/10
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (CM, 73′ for Saul) – 6/10
Christian Pulisic (RM, 79′ for Ziyech) – N/A
Harvey Vale (RM, 90′ for Azpilicueta) – N/A
Hugo Lloris (GK) – 5/10 – Not a lot he can really do about the defenders in front of him caving in.
Japhet Tanganga (CB) – 1/10 – His poor and misjudged pass led to Chelsea’s opener, his poor clearance led to their second. A night to forget.
Davinson Sanchez (CB) – 5/10 – Failed in the physical duels with Lukaku, though they were largely away from the goal. Doesn’t possess the same passing range as Eric Dier and that harmed Spurs’ ability to build from the back.
Ben Davies (CB) – 4/10 – Unlucky for the own goal for sure. Didn’t offer anywhere near as much in possession as he has in recent weeks however.
Emerson Royal (RWB) – 3/10 – Absolutely nothing spectacular about any part of Emerson’s game and that’s becoming a detriment to Tottenham.
Oliver Skipp (CM) – 5/10 – Ran around a bit and was at least tidy in possession. Good for him.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (CM) – 3/10 – A total net negative. Unable to keep possession and Chelsea weren’t fazed by his physicality.
Matt Doherty (LWB) – 5/10 – Got forward with purpose and Chelsea didn’t target him. Probably one of his best performances in a Spurs shirt for these reasons alone. Hooked at half-time regardless.
Lucas Moura (RW) – 5/10 – Eager to get involved and dropped deep to help out but nothing was coming off.
Harry Kane (CF) – 2/10 – You’d hardly have believed Kane was playing. Didn’t even try to double up as a number six as he so often does nowadays.
Son Heung-min (LW) – 2/10 – Ditto. Made no discernible impact on the game.
Tanguy Ndombele (AM, 46′ for Doherty) – 4/10 – Brought some immediate thrust to Spurs’ ball progression before fading out of the game.
Harry Winks (CM, 73′ for Skipp) – 4/10
Giovani Lo Celso (RW, 80′ for Son) – N/A
Bryan Gil (LW, 80′ for Lucas) – N/A