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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea book themselves another Wembley date as Middlesbrough offer zero resistance

Carabao Cup semi-final second leg

Chelsea (4) 6 Howson OG 15, Fernandez 28, Disasi 36, Palmer 42, 77, Madueke 81

Middlesbrough (0) 1 Rogers 88

Aggregate: 6-2

Chelsea saw off Championship outfit Middlesbrough with ridiculous ease and now have the chance to lift the League Cup - in its various guises - for a sixth time in their history.

Even a goal down from the first leg, they did not look in great danger of failing to cash in on a favourable semi-final draw and having taken only 15 minutes to draw level on aggregate with Michael Carrick's men, they then ran riot.

Before the half was out, they had tormented the visitors with further goals from Endo Fernandez, Axel Disasi and Cole Palmer. The gulf in quality was too huge for Boro to compensate for with effort alone.

Palmer added a fifth from an assist by sub Conor Gallagher, and Noni Madueke's shot was turned into his own net by Ray van den Berg - the goal credited to the attacker rather than the defender. It all smacked of overkill.

So, after enjoying this stroll in the park, Mauricio Pochettino has the chance to claim his first trophy as boss since moving to English shores and can get Blues back into the realm of silverware-gathering, which seemed to be a fanciful idea not so long ago.

Next month at Wembley, they will play the winners of tomorrow night's showdown between Fulham or Liverpool.

Either a west London derby final awaits, or a repeat of the 2005 Cardiff final against the Reds - Jose Mourinho's first trophy - and the one two years ago which ended in defeat on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

The Steven Gerrard, Kepa Arrizabalaga finals, if you like.

Students of football will shrug their shoulders with disdain at the very idea that the outcome could ever have been in doubt. The North East side hardly ever score at Stamford Bridge, let alone win.

Chelsea had gone nine games in a row against Boro without conceding before the first leg meeting - winning eight of them.

The last Boro goal at the Bridge was in 2001 - an Alen Boksic penalty in a 2-2 draw in which Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink scored twice.

You have to go back to March 1975 to find the last time Middlesbrough won at Stamford Bridge and there now have been 21 fruitless visits for them since then - Boro failing to score in 18 of them and netting only six times.

In other words, this is not a fixture that toys with uncertainties. Boro never seem to offer even a smidgen of hope to their fans in this particular fixture.

It took no time at all for the Blues to assert their authority. Moments after Ben Chilwell - wearing the captain's armband - had headed a good chance over the bar from a Thiago Silva chip, the Chelsea left-back set up the opener.

His drift into the middle was followed by a simple pass inside to Raheem Sterling and the winger squared for Armando Broja, who was only denied a goal by Jonny Howson tracking back and putting through his own goal before the Chelsea striker could pull the trigger.

Then came the avalanche of profitable attacks - almost all of them down the left side of Middlesbrough's overrun defence.

Fernandez tapped home after a Disasi pull-back had been touched on by Broja, then Disasi himself finished off another sweeping move - Sterling with the assist.

The visitors gifted a fourth for good measure, overplaying at the back, of all things. Dan Barlaser had his pocket picked by Palmer, and the first-half misery was complete.

With that tasty FA Cup tie at home to Aston Villa just three days away, and a trip to Liverpool eight days hence, there was no need to do any more, but the Blues added a couple of extra goals for good measure. No one was trying very hard to stop them.

A late consolation goal for Morgan Rogers was a very rare thing indeed - a goal for Boro in this part of the capital.

Blues:(4-2-3-1) Petrovic - Disasi, Thiago Silva, Colwill, Chilwell (Gilchrist 65) - Caicedo (Chukweumeka 72), Fernandez - Palmer, Mudryk (Madueke h/t), Sterling (Castledine 85) -Broja (Gallagher 65)

Boro: (4-4-2) Glover - Clarke, Fry, van den Berg, Engel - Crooks (Gilbert 88), Barlaser, Howson (O'Brien 71), Hackney - Forss (Dijsteel h/t), Rogers


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