Chelsea reached their first final of the season in an incredible game that saw the best the English game has to offer. Both sides put everything into a 120mins of end to end football. Amazingly, considering how entertaining it was, it ended the first 90 without a goal and needed extra time to find a winner.
Other than Chelsea being victorious, the other big winner tonight was Manchester City. The Blues will be feeling it tomorrow after this slugfest of a match. We also lost Cesc mid way thru the second half to what looked like a knee injury, post a collision with JT. Lets hope his immediate removal was more precautionary ahead of Saturdays crunch game, as opposed to anything serious. Ramires, was a more than able substitute and it was great to see him get match time.
Acknowledging the importance of this game following Saturday’s FA Cup debacle at the hands of Bradford, Mourinho played almost his strongest 11. We are certainly seeing a major revival in the Domestic Cup competitions this year and that is good news for the fans and sponsors alike.
The home side line up featured all the usual suspects in Jose’s first choice team- with only two exceptions. Kurt Zouma getting the nod over Cahill, which is only fair considering the Frenchman’s performances so far in the competition, and if we are being honest, Gary Cahill has needed a little rest after a few games when he has not looked his sharpest. Also Filipe Luis started a left back , as Azpilicueta was rested for the City game.
In took an old warhorse to settle this battle. On 94 minutes, following a clumsy challenge outside the box by Lucas on Hazard, due to a hospital back pass by Mario Balotelli, Chelsea were awarded a free kick. Willian’s dead ball cross into the box caught the Italian Spaniel napping and Ivanovich headed home unmarked from short-range.. Mario’s Liverpool adventure just keeps getting worse. He actually looked quite sharp until he got anywhere near a goal, either his or ours!… Baloonatelli, Bafoonatelli… take your pick.
The game was played in a very physical atmosphere. Michael Oliver had a bit of a mare if truth be told. He should have awarded a penalty in favour of Diego Costa early in the first half when Martin Skrtel clipped his ankle in the box. The referee was the only person that missed it. Jose was applauding as he saw what he thought was Oliver point to the spot, only to realize he had given a goal kick instead. Mourinho’s face was a picture, not a happy one either. The man in black’s only saving grace was that Costa should actually not have been on the pitch when this happened, he should have been sent off for stamping on The German, Emre Can about 10 mins earlier….. But Oliver missed that too!……. The other refereeing travesty was his failure to send Jordan Henderson off late in proceedings for an intentional hand ball…. his second bookable offence. Henderson said he was doing his Harry Worth impression and got away with it!
LIverpool certainly came to play, and even though Chelsea had the larger share of possession, Pool looked the more dangerous, certainly in the first half. Coutinho and Sterling both looked dangerous. Stevie G was also having a good game. Courtois yet again was the difference as he made another couple of world-class saves. Also hopefully Brendan Rogers will pat Simon Mignolet on the back as he had a very good game after recent travails.
In the end, from the second half on, The Blues began to dominate. Eden Hazard ran circles around the right side of Liverpool’s defense for much of the game. Losing Cesc did not alter the balance as Chelsea’s superior fitness started to show. Willian and Oscar should be tested for some sort of super fitness drug!… their batteries seem to last forever. Jordan Henderson told knackered in extra time, and missed the easiest chance either side had all night, he could have evened the score, but missed a point-blank header with Courtois stranded.
The best side won in the end, which is lucky for the Ref. as if we would have bowed out, Jose would have put a contract out on him.
The game against Man City looms large. Cesc probably missing and the majority of the team having to recover from tonight’s marathon, I’ll take a draw and keep the cushion at 5 points. Good news for Arsenal Fans who for some reason are starting to think the are in with a shout this year… dream on.