Chelsea booked a place for themselves in the quarterfinals of the EFL Cup after a thrilling 2-1 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues took the lead via Antonio Rudiger in the 26th minute. The German was left unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box and was picked out superbly by Charly Musonda after a short corner. The former Roma man easily guided the ball into the top corner to give the hosts the lead.
Ten minutes into the second half, Everton seemed to spring into life and dominated the hosts for a large portion of the half. Willy Caballero was called into action a number of times and was made to earn his wages, making 4 notable saves to keep his side in the game.
A sense of urgency seemed to kick into Chelsea towards the end of the game and they began taking the game to the visitors. The Blues kept getting closer and closer and eventually their persistence paid off.
Willian and Fabregas combined well after a corner in the 92nd minute and the Brazilian let fly a curling effort at Jordan Pickford’s goal, which rattled off the left post and nestled at the back of the net.
Everton weren’t quite done yet and immediately after the restart, they punished Chelsea for a lapse in concentration and Dominic Calvert-Lewin bundled in a goal from close range, after some good work by Oumar Niasse. 93rd minute and the Toffees were still in it.
However, that proved to be too little too late for the visitors and mere seconds later, Neil Swarbrick blew the final whistle and confirmed Chelsea’s place in the quarterfinals. The visitors can take a number of positives from this game though, and David Unsworth showed promise in his first match in charge.
Willy Caballero: 8
Had little to do in the first half, but was called into action a number of times in the second half. Kept his side in the game with a number of smart, reflex saves and showed his experience. Was not at fault for Calvert-Lewin’s goal late in the game.
Antonio Rudiger: 8
Made up for a terrible shot early in the first half with a fine, towering header in the 26th minute. The goal seemed to have given him a shot of adrenaline and he only grew in confidence as the half went on. Was good in the air and cut a resolute figure on the right side of Chelsea’s back-three.
However, he was needlessly booked in the second half after a moment of madness, which saw him run into Kevin Mirallas and his failure to nullify Niasse late in the game led to Everton’s goal. Would’ve had a higher rating had it not been for those instances.
Andreas Christensen: 7
The 21-year-old put in yet another fine shift in the center of Conte’s back-three. Was partly to blame for Calvert-Lewin’s late goal. All in all though, Christensen kept his nerve and dealt with most of what came his way when his side were on the backfoot in the second half.
Gary Cahill: 7
The Chelsea captain had a good performance on the night and wasn’t too troubled on the left side of defence. Dealt with whatever came his way comfortably and was good in the air. This was easily one of his most assured performances this season.
Danny Drinkwater: 6
Looked rusty in the first half and that was understandable, given that this was his first game. Started the second half very well, and showed off his good range of passing. Taken off on the hour mark after a sudden rise in intensity in the game. Promising debut from the Englishman.
Ethan Ampadu: 7
The Welshman was the first player born in the 21st century to start a game for Chelsea and he didn’t disappoint at all. Wasn’t fazed by the occasion one bit and put in a mature and composed performance. Difficult to be believe that he is only 17 years of age.
The youngster was on the receiving end of some harsh tackles and will have to build on his visibly lean frame to get used to more physical sides. However, he will only improve from here and for someone his age to play a full 90 minutes for Chelsea is a huge deal. A very promising talent.
Davide Zappacosta: 6
Caused problems for the Toffees on the right flank and nearly got a goal in the first half. But, Zappacost was largely anonymous for most of the second half, although he got back into the game later on, and tried to create something with his pace, trickery and direct running.
Did well to prevent Aaron Lennon from getting on the scoresheet with a sliding clearance in the second half. The Brazilian defended well, but is clearly more comfortable going forward than he is defending. Needs to be allowed to play as a winger more often.
Needless to say, the Brazilian hasn’t been his very best this season. He was still Chelsea’s best player going forward for most of the game and scored what eventually proved to be the winner, but he didn’t offer much going forward and squandered one chance when put through.
Willian did, however, pass well and completed a fair amount of take-ons. Perhaps he wasn’t used to not having someone beside Cesc Fabregas, N’Golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Eden Hazard to feed off of. Will have better games going forward and this goal will undoubtedly do his confidence a world of good.
Michy Batshuayi: 6
Had an encouraging first half. Something that stood out was his ability to hold up the ball. The Belgian always seemed to struggle with his back to the goal, but not tonight. Barely had the kick of the ball for large parts of the second half after Everton began dominating proceedings.
Batsuayi also had a chance to score in the 77th minute, after getting the better of Pickford in a one-on-one situation, but was prevented by Jagielka. Couldn’t get a goal, however, despite all his good work and was taken off for Alvaro Morata in the 83rd minute as Chelsea looked to try and kill the game.
Charly Musonda: 6
Assisted Antonio Rudiger’s opener with a superb ball. Drifted in and out of the game and wasn’t involved as much as he would’ve liked. Taken off in the 69th minute as Conte looked to add more bite to Chelsea’s attack.
Cesc Fabregas: 7
Brought on try and provide a creative spark in midfield, and the Spaniard did just that. Fabregas took some time to get into the game as Everton had most of the possession for a while. Combined superbly with Willian to set up what eventually proved to be the winner.