Chelsea struck late to seal their passage into the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 win at Brentford.
Bees defender Pontus Jansson put through his own net to open the scoring on 80 minutes, and Jorginho sealed the win for the Blues from the penalty spot with five minutes to go at the Brentford Community Stadium – setting up a semi-final tie with Tottenham.
It was a frustrating night for Brentford, who had enjoyed the better of the chances in the first half, but eventually caved to Chelsea pressure late on as the Blues reached the final four of the competition they last won in 2015.
Chelsea seal late passage into Carabao semis
Chelsea dominated possession in the first half, but it was Brentford who created the best of the chances. The first big opening was their best on 12 minutes, as Yoane Wissa was found by Bryan Mbeumo in the middle, but he put his header too close to Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Kepa was called into action again in the visitors’ goal on 31 minutes to deny Mathias Jensen’s headed effort, and then to palm wide from Rico Henry after the wing-back had been released in behind Chelsea’s defence.
At the other end, Chelsea’s best chance came just before half-time and fell to Harvey Vale – one of three teenagers handed their senior debut by Thomas Tuchel. After 43 minutes he found himself unmarked in the box to receive a cross from Cesar Azpilicueta, but he could only head straight at Alvaro Fernandez.
- Brentford had been out of action for nearly a fortnight, which allowed the opportunity for Sergi Canos, Ethan Pinnock and Mads Bech Sorensen to get fit and return to the starting XI
- Thomas Tuchel made a host of Chelsea changes, including handing debuts to 17-year-old Jude Soonsup-Bell, 18-year-old Xavier Simons and 18-year-old Harvey Vale
Another of those debutants, Jude Soonsup-Bell, was brought off at half-time, along with Mateo Kovacic, as Tuchel freshened things up for Chelsea – with Jorginho and Christian Pulisic coming on in their place.
It was two more changes that finally led to the breakthrough for Chelsea, however. Substitute N’Golo Kante found another replacement in Reece James down the right, and his cross was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Jansson with 10 minutes to go.
In the 85th minute, it was game over, as Fernandez tripped Pulisic in the box, and Jorginho stepped up to send him the wrong way from the penalty spot.
What the managers said…
Brentford’s Thomas Frank: “I went as strong as I thought we could, and it was a big missed opportunity. We played a better first half last time than [in the league game]. We gave nothing away and were very good in the low block. They had one chance and we had the best chances. We did well and should have been in front.
“Second half, we struggled to create. We were always on the counter and we didn’t nail our set-pieces. But again we defended well and gave nothing away until the 80th minute where we needed to do a tiny bit better down that side. Pontus has had a fantastic season and he’ll blame himself for that one. Two minor mistakes gave them their two goals, and that was the difference today.”
Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel: “It was clear it was going to be a tough draw with four strong teams. Tottenham is nice for our fans, it’s a London derby and it will be difficult, but we are looking forward to it. We did everything to get to the semis, we wanted to be there and we deserved to be there. It was a brilliant performance and result in the circumstances, and with the line-up and the situation.
“Some of the guys who played were youngsters, and others who didn’t have so many minutes were leading them. Suddenly you find yourself in the middle of a match like this, where it’s tough to play and you have to take responsibility. It’s not easy to do and I’m very happy with how we did this. It was very disciplined and structured, with lots of individual quality. Well done to the boys. I’m super happy.”
Man of the Match: Rico Henry
It’s not often you give this award to a man who ended up on the losing side, but Henry was withdrawn with the game still goalless and it may well have stayed that way had Thomas Frank not opted to remove him.
The all-important Chelsea opener came down his side once he was not there, and in his 73 minutes on the pitch, he provided a constant threat down the left for Brentford. With Luke Shaw out of form and Ben Chilwell injured, Gareth Southgate should be keeping an eye.
Carabao Cup 2021/22 schedule…
Live Renault Super Sunday
Sunday 26th December 5:00pm
Live Renault Super Sunday
Sunday 26th December 7:45pm
Brentford will be live on Sky Sports on Boxing Day when they travel to Brighton in the Premier League; kick-off 8pm. Chelsea will be live on Sky Sports just beforehand too as they travel to Aston Villa on Sunday; kick-off 5.30pm.