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Chelsea 6-1 (6-2 agg) Middlesbrough: Blues blow away Boro to reach Carabao Cup final



(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Chelsea are into the Carabao Cup final after a rampant 6-1 victory at Stamford Bridge comprehensively overturned their first leg deficit to Middlesbrough.

The assignment was clear for Mauricio Pochettino‘s men after a shockingly laboured loss in the North East. A furious first-half flood of goals and a quickfire second half double proved the perfect antidote, booking the buoyant Blues into the final on February 25.

In the windy west London conditions, Chelsea were looking to execute a long ball over the top of the visitors’ defence from the off, to very little success. Conversely the Championship side settled well, with decent spells of possession inside the Blues’ half and a number of early warning signs to heed – a dangerous cross from Rav Van den Berg certainly needed scrambling away.

The first sight of goal for the hosts was ten minutes in. A nice give and go between Mykhailo Mudryk and Enzo Fernandez saw the Ukrainian work his way in from the left flank before unleashing a drive that was deflected over. The former Shakhtar Donetsk dynamo would then go into the book a couple of minutes later for his protestations for a penalty. Ben Chilwell sprung the backline and directed a header towards goal, getting absolutely clarted by ‘Boro keeper Tom Glover in the process.

Chelsea’s captain for the evening – making his first start since September – clearly dusted himself off to turn provider all of ninety seconds later. A cutely threaded through ball sliced open the deep Teessiders backline like a hot knife through butter. Raheem Sterling patiently directed the ball in the direction of Armando Broja, and Middlesbrough captain Jonny Howson connected where the Albanian could not to restore parity to the semi-final tie.

(Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Half the job was done, but the Pensioners could not rest on their laurels. From a well-worked corner routine, striker Morgan Rogers found the ball at his feet from all of ten or so yards and with plenty of the goal to aim at – but he conspired to find the outstretched gloves of Stamford Bridge’s resident Serbian giant Djordje Petrovic, who had got down well.

It’s fair to say he might be ruing that spurned opportunity when he goes to bed this evening, because from that point on Chelsea put their foot on the accelerator and ramped up their stranglehold. On the half hour mark a Sterling backheel released the swashbuckling Axel Disasi. Broja scuffed the cutback but it rolled through kindly to Fernandez to blast beyond Glover and put the Kings of the King’s Road ahead for the first time.

A low shot from the Argentinian almost made it three immediately thereafter, if not for catlike reflexes from Middlesbrough’s shotstopper. Yet the tide was only going one way, and an indomitable Disasi launched a charge from his own half after cutting out an errant pass before getting on the end of a low Sterling cross – sending Stamford Bridge into pandemonium.

It went from bad to worse for Michael Carrick’s side, who were at sixes and sevens. But it was four on the scoreline just before half-time. Cole Palmer nipped in ahead of Daniel Barlaser on the edge of the visitor’s penalty area. From there he kept his composure to roll the ball into the bottom corner, all but ending the contest and exorcising the demons of his glaring misses in the first leg.

(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Noni Madueke entered the fray in place of Mudryk at the break, perhaps prompted by the Ukrainian’s booking or by his generally tepid performance. The young Englishman looked in trouble no more than five minutes later, but he managed to run off the knock he had taken to the relief of many inside the staidum.

After the frenetic pace of the first period, there was a real lull at the beginning of the second as the urgency left Chelsea’s play and the ideas left Middlesbrough. To their credit they were still making some dangerous forays forward. A vicious low cross into the box from Lukas Engel on the hour mark was like a bolt out of the blue, with the Blues eventually conspiring to block a shot from Rogers and see off the danger.

Conor Gallagher and Alfie Gilchrist came on in place of Broja and Chilwell, the latter superb on the night. The former was released through on goal not long after his introduction, but he didn’t quite have the legs to get a shot away and the visitors snuffed out the chance. They didn’t snuff out the next – Palmer pinging a delicious chip towards Disasi, only for the Frenchman to take a swing and a miss on the penalty spot. Carney Chukwuemeka came on for Moises Caicedo thereafter.

Some brilliant work from the sub Gallagher saw him fire a ball across the goalmouth, with Palmer only needing to make contact to nab another goal and make it five. Just four minutes later Madueke would get in on the act, too, with a left footed curled finish deflected beyond the grasp of the helpless Glover. A debut for Leo Castledine only added further gloss.

Middlesbrough were largely the architects of their own downfall, but their efforts weren’t to be faulted and a sumptuous strike from Rogers from distance was enough to send the Teessiders back on the long journey with a consolation goal in the bag. For Chelsea however, Liverpool or Fulham await in the League Cup final – with the real prospect of silverware for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

(Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)