Reece James starred on his debut and Callum Hudson-Odoi marked his return with a goal as Frank Lampard picked up a first home win as Chelsea boss with a resounding 7-1 EFL Cup victory against Grimsby Town on Wednesday.
The Blues had lost back-to-back matches at Stamford Bridge and were winless there in four under Lampard, but they made light work of their League Two visitors, scoring seven goals in the competition for the first time since 1960-61.
James was one of three full debutants to start for Chelsea and played a part in three of his side’s goals, including a strike of his own inside the final 10 minutes.
Matt Green’s goal had given Grimsby some hope following quick-fire strikes from Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi.
But Pedro scored from the spot before half-time and further goals followed from Kurt Zouma, James, Batshuayi and Hudson-Odoi – returning from an Achilles injury – in the second half as Chelsea returned to winning ways.
10 – Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 10 games in all competitions, including all nine under Frank Lampard – they last went on a longer run between September and December 1996 under Ruud Gullit (16 games). Spacious. pic.twitter.com/9uMRJD2ghz
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 25, 2019
Barkley charged into the box and drilled a low shot inside James McKeown’s near post and Batshuayi fired in a second on the turn after being teed up by a James pass as Chelsea raced two goals ahead inside seven minutes.
Some poor defending from Chelsea gifted Grimsby a route back into the contest 19 minutes in, however, with Green powering home a shot from outside the box a long pass was flicked on.
But Green was at fault for giving away a penalty three minutes before half-time when hauling down Zouma and it was left to Pedro – not Barkley, who missed from the spot against Valencia last week – to restore Chelsea’s two-goal lead.
Zouma got in front of his man to convert James’ cross 10 minutes into the second half and a flurry of goals followed in the final stages.
Young right-back James got the ball out of his feet and curled it away from McKeown, who had earlier made a string of impressive stops, while Batshuayi picked out the top corner and Hudson-Odoi slipped a shot inside the near post to complete the scoring.
What does it mean? Fringe players take the opportunity
Lampard made no secret that he wanted to use Wednesday’s game as a chance to give fringe players and unused youngsters a chance to impress – and they certainly took the opportunity.
Four players made their debuts and another, Billy Gilmour, started for the first time in Chelsea colours in what was a team performance that offers yet more hope of a bright future for the west London side.
James justifies the hype
Many have tipped James to become a Chelsea regular before the end of the season, but this was the 19-year-old’s first senior appearance for the club, having only just recovered from an injury picked up during the close season.
James got in behind down the right to set up Batshuayi’s first goal, picked out Zouma for Chelsea’s fourth after beating his man and got on the scoresheet himself, showing just why he is so highly rated.
Pulisic unable to grab chance
Pulisic, back involved after sitting out Chelsea’s past three matches, was the least effective of his side’s attacking players.
The United States international looked a little too desperate to make something happen and failed to find the target from his three shots when seemingly everyone else around him was finding the back of the net.
Chelsea host Brighton and Hove Albion on their return to Premier League action on Saturday, while Grimsby travel to Exeter City in League Two on the same day.
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