League Cup - Ten-man Chelsea outlast Fulham

Wed, 21 Sep 21:43:00 2011

Ten-man Chelsea advanced to the fourth round of the Carling Cup after edging out Fulham 4-3 on penalties at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea's Oriol Romeu (right) in action with Fulham's Matthew Briggs, September 21 2011 - 0

The West London derby finished goalless after 120 minutes, despite Alex conceding a penalty early in the second half and receiving his marching orders in the process.

Patjim Kasami hit the woodwork from 12 yards and it was from the spot that the third round tie was ultimately decided when Bryan Ruiz’s fifth and final kick for the visitors was again kept out by the bar.

The gruelling test for a much-changed Blues side ended their 21-game streak of always scoring in Carling Cup competition, but more importantly Andre Villas-Boas’s men march on to the next round.

With two experimental sides on display and debutants galore, the clash of the two local rivals started slow, and the first serious chance didn’t come until the 20 minute mark when Romelu Lukaku tested Mark Schwarzer with an effort from inside the area.

Moments earlier, Alex had to be at his best to cut out the threat of 17-year-old Kerim Frei, who kept Chelsea on their toes with his dangerous runs in behind strikers Ruiz and Orlando Sa.

Five minutes later and Alex was the hero for the hosts once more, this time dispossessing Ruiz on the slide despite giving up a yard or so to the Costa Rican.

Ruiz’s chip into the danger zone on 27 minutes found Sa, who aimed a shot the wrong side of the near post instead of teeing up Kasami to his left for a certain tap-in goal from six yards.

With six minutes remaining in the half, teenage midfielder Josh McEachran almost capped a fine solo move with his first senior goal, but his on-target effort was prodded over the line by Daniel Sturridge who triggered the offside flag.

Despite costing his team what could have been a legal opening goal, the striker did have right-back Stephen Kelly on his shoulder who may well have cleared McEachran’s chance had Sturridge not made certain.

It was the last contribution for Sturridge, however, as his hamstring forced an early departure with Frank Lampard replacing him on the stroke of half-time.

The complexion of the tie changed within a few minutes of the restart, however, when Alex’s sliding challenge was not up to its usual standards and ended up denying Frei a goalscoring opportunity.

The Brazillian was given a straight red, but Kasami wasted a golden opportunity to put the Cottagers ahead from the spot when his kick smacked off the crossbar.

Capping a mad opening to the second half, the impressive Oriol Romeu – signed from Barcelona in the summer – brought down Sa in the area but referee Chris Foy ruled that the ball was won.

Between Sturridge’s injury, Petr Cech being replaced by Ross Turnbull at half-time after the Czech keeper collided with Sa at the end of the first period and the dismissal of Alex, John Terry’s arrival at the expense of the impressive McEachran meant that Chelsea’s three subs were used up on 49 minutes.

And the away side made hay, taking over control of the game and coming close halfway through the half through Chris Baird, sub Moussa Dembele and a potential Terry own goal denied only by superb reactions from Turnbull to tip it over the bar.

Two minutes later, Terry almost opened the scoring at the other end after good play from Lampard, only to be denied by more excellent goalkeeping from Schwarzer this time.

Fulham boss Martin Jol brought on Bobby Zamora and Steve Sidwell for Sa and the debuting Marcel Gecov late on in an attempt to expose the tiring home legs, but it remained goalless after 90 minutes.

Despite late chances for David Luiz and Sidwell, as well as a Senderos clearance to deny a Kalou finish to Lukaku’s cross, the additional 30 minutes failed to produce a winner and it went to the penalty shoot-out.

Of the first eight spot kicks, only Lampard and Dembele were unable to beat Schwarzer and Turnbull respectively, and after Florent Malouda made it 4-3, the pressure was on £10 million signing Ruiz to keep the Whites in the compeition.

But much like Kasami’s penalty during regular time, the striker was only able to find the crossbar and despite controversy as to whether it actually crossed the line after smacking the underside, the goal-line official ruled no goal and the 2005 and 2007 winners moved onto the last 16.

Liam Happe / Eurosport

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