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Chelsea’s route to the Carabao Cup final

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 Feb 2024

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Chelsea have the chance to apply balm to a tumultuous spell in their recent history when they face Liverpool in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.

With there seeming little hope of achieving a European place via their Premier League form, the meeting with the Reds takes on added importance for Mauricio Pochettino’s young side.

Here the PA news agency looks at their route to Wembley.

Second round – Chelsea 2-1 AFC Wimbledon

Entering a round earlier than they are used to on account of having no European football, Pochettino’s side faced a shock when their League Two opponents took the lead via James Tilley’s first-half penalty, awarded after goalkeeper Robert Sanchez had flown from his goal with a reckless punch at a free-kick. Chelsea replied with a spot-kick of their own converted by Noni Madueke in stoppage time before the break. In the second half, Enzo Fernandez took advantage of an error from Alex Bass in the visitors’ goal to score for the first time since his £105million move from Benfica, sparing his side’s blushes.

Third round – Chelsea 1-0 Brighton

The Blues had lost at home to Brighton in the final weeks of the 2022/23 season, but with Roberto De Zerbi’s side juggling Premier League commitments with a first European campaign, Chelsea came out on top to progress to round four thanks to Nicolas Jackson’s goal early in the second half. The game was notable for a full debut for summer signing from Manchester City, Cole Palmer, the 21-year-old setting up the winning goal. He goes into Sunday’s final as the club’s top scorer with 12 in all competitions.

Fourth round – Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn

Benoit Badiashile marked his first appearance of the season after injury by scoring his second Chelsea goal, as Blackburn were dispatched at Stamford Bridge. The defender pounced on an error from Rovers goalkeeper Leopold Wahlstedt who failed to deal with Palmer’s corner, tapping home from close range. Raheem Sterling scored in the second half, set up again by the increasingly influential Palmer, to put his team into the last eight.

Quarter-final – Chelsea 1-1 Newcastle (Chelsea win 4-2 on penalties)

Chelsea looked to be heading out when Callum Wilson took advantage of chaos in their defence to put Newcastle a goal up in the first half, as indifferent Premier League form looked to have caught up with the team’s cup progress. That’s the way it stayed until stoppage time, when Kieran Trippier hesitated in dealing with a cross and Mykhailo Mudryk stole in to rescue his side. A penalty shoot-out followed, with Trippier the villain again for the visitors before goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic saved from Matt Ritchie to send Chelsea through.

Semi-final – Middlesbrough 1-0 Chelsea / Chelsea 6-1 Middlesbrough (6-2 on aggregate)

A calamitous first leg at the Riverside Stadium saw Pochettino’s team return south embarrassed after missing a host of chances against the Championship outfit, with Palmer the principal culprit. Hayden Hackney’s goal was the difference to leave boss Michael Carrick and his players dreaming of Wembley. Those aspirations were extinguished by half-time in the return leg in west London, with Chelsea 4-0 up by the break en route to a 6-1 win that ensured it would be they and not Boro that face Liverpool on Sunday.

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