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Middlesborough 1-0 Chelsea: Toothless Blues in Carabao Cup semi-final first leg



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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Chelsea are behind in their Carabao Cup semi-final fixture after losing 1-0 against Middlesborough in the first-leg at the Riverside Stadium.

The Blues had over 70 percent of the possession across the game and 17 shots on goal, but failed to score and were ultimately punished by the Championship outfit.

The first moment of controversy came within the opening minutes when Emmanuel Latte Lath appeared to be cleared out by Axel Disasi following his shot at goal, but The Blues were fortunate to have no VAR in use at the Riverside Stadium.

Latte Lath had to exit the pitch minutes later after being unable to play on with the injury to his ankle. Michael Carrick also had to re-manoeuvre when Alex Bangura pulled up after a footrace with Noni Madueke after 20 minutes.

There was another call for a penalty in the Chelsea box minutes before when the ball struck Enzo Fernandez‘s hand. However, in this instance, the ball bounced off of the Argentine’s foot, and so would not have been given even if those at Stockley Park were on duty.

Despite the poor opening period to the game, it was Mauricio Pochettino’s side who had the first big chance of the game.

Of course, Chelsea’s first killer pass of the semi-final came from Boro midfielder and captain Jonny Howson, who played the ball right into Cole Palmer’s feet right in front of the penalty box.

Palmer, however, was unable to capitalise after hitting his low shot just past the post in a chance that Chelsea would rue after Middlesborough opened the scoring just six minutes later.

After a long ball was sent down The Blues’ left side, Levi Cowhill was unable to deal with the dangerous Isaiah Jones, who cut the ball back for Hayden Hackney to stroke home and give the hosts a deserved lead.

Two more chances came Palmer’s way towards the back end of the half, though. One of which seemed a simple tap-in after Tom Glover spilt the ball right into his direction but the England international got his technique all wrong and ended up shooting over the bar with his effort.

The Blues made no changes at the break and were only able to create a couple of half-chances – through Madueke and Conor Gallagher – before Armando Broja and Mykhailo Mudryk were introduced shortly after the 60-minute mark.

Yet, it remained a similar story for Pochettino’s men, who were toothless in the final third despite having the lion-share of possession.

Had it not been for Moisés Caicedo in centre-midfield, who made countless important interceptions, there could’ve been more trouble at Đorđe Petrović’s net.

Chelsea could’ve played until the early hours of Wednesday morning and still not scored. They will have to be so much better if they are to progress to Wembley in the second leg at Stamford Bridge.