Blues edge into EFL 5th round with penalty shootout win after 1-1 draw with Saints at The Bridge
By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 1 v Southampton 1 (4-3 on pens)
Reece James scored the fifth and final penalty as Chelsea overcame stubborn Southampton 4-3 on penalties as the game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes in this EFL 4th round match at Stamford Bridge.
In truth, while both dugouts seemed to be highly animated throughout the match - quite often the focus of attention was each other, the game itself was of secondary quality throughout.
Kai Havertz showed that he could become the striking reference point in the absence of Romelu Lukaku with a fine headed goal a minute before the half-time break.
But the Saints pegged the Blues back two minutes after the restart - Che Adam’s was on the spot to tuck home from close range.
While the vast majority of the 39,766 crowd saw a see-sawing match where midfield was a barren wasteland and the final third by both sides looked like motor bombs had landed on them, the head coach’s from both outfits just saw mistakes, poor tackles, bad positioning and terrible finishing.
The goalkeeper’s Kepa and Fraser Forster were the stars of the game - thwarting angled shots and blocking point-blank efforts which kept the score to 1-1 and Kepa can pat himself on the back during the shootout - lightly tipping Theo Walcott’s shot onto his post.
When Will Smallbone skied his effort, it was defender James who provided the final kick of the evening.
Saul almost scored after six minutes when he latched into a corner with a free header. He and;Ed the ball towards the corner of the net. But Fraser Forster produced a fine, one-handed save to thwart the Spanish midfielder.
Kai Havertz tried his best on 17 minutes to curl an edge of the penalty area ball past Forster. Instead he failed to get enough power of swerve to trouble the stopper, who watch the ball sail past his right post.
He next effort on 26 minutes was better. A quick attack saw the `German hit a sweet left-footer from the apex of the left hand side of the penalty area. Forster could only parry the ball away for a corner.
Kepa was forced into a snatching the ball from what looked a certain goal on 32 minutes.
Stuart Armstrong picked up the ball after Kyle Walker-Peter clipped the ball onto the midfielder, who was just inside the a Chelsea area. He toe-poked the ball and it looked like it was going just inside The goal. But the Spaniard stretched to his limit and managed to garb it at the last minutes.
The two dugouts decided to shout at each other - mostly in German it appeared.
With the fourth official standing between them trying to restore Oder.
Mostly by letting them blow off steam.
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel was the happier of the two a minute from the break, when a regulation corner on left by Hakim Ziyech was tucked home into the far corner by Havertz who directed the ball well past the flailing arms of Forster.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
But within seconds of the restart the visitors equalised through Che Evans, who took advantage of a loose ball after Kepa blocked Walker-Peters’s shot with the inside of his left thigh and tucked the ball home.
Havertz should have got the Blues back on course on 52 minutes, when he raced clear on goal. But he overhit the ball and he gave it up to Forster.
The game opened up at this point, with both side having half chances to take the lead.
Reece James’s accurate, curling right-footed free kick was tipped over the crossbar by Forster, who was rapidly becoming the man of the match for the series of block he was making.
Tuchel opted to bring on Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell, Ziyech and Ross Barkley were replaced.
Surprisingly, Chilwell adopted a right wing slot.
A quick attack involving Hudson-Odoi and Havertz saw the German tuck the ball back to in-running Saul, on 74 minutes. But his edge of the area left-footer went well wide of goal.
He tried again a minute later, this time his effort was arrowing into the net but Forster acrobatically tipped the ball away for a corner.
Saints substitute Will Smallbone, on for 30 seconds, cut through the open Chelsea rearguard and produced a powerful goal-bound header. Kepa was on hand to parry the ball away.
Kepa kept Chelsea in the tie deep into deep time by twice stopping powerful headers from ending the Blues Carabao Cup dream.
Malanga Darr could have won it with the last kick of the game, but his scuffed effort was saved easily by Forster.
Armstrong scored 0-1
Alonso scored 1-1
Walcott saved 1-1 saved by Kepa
Mount saved 1-1 great save by Forster
Long scored 1-2
Hudson-Odoi scored 2-2
Smallbone missed 2-2 skied it over the crossbar
Chilwell scored 3-2
Romeu scored 3-3
James scored 4-3
Teams: Chelsea: Kepa, Alonso, Kovacic, Chalobah, Saul, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, James, Havertz, Sarr.
Subs: Bettinelli, Sharman-Lowe, Rudiger, Jorginho, Silva, Mount, Chilwell, Vale
Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters, Vojnovic, Armstrong, Adam’s, Djenepo, Salisu, Tella, Diallo, Valery
Subs: Lewis, Romeu, Long, Redmond, Perrault, Smallbone, Livramento, Walcott, Bednarek
Referee: Kevin Friend