DERBY COUNTY 1 CHELSEA 3
CHELSEA midfielder Cesc Fabregas is adamant the squad assembled by manager Jose Mourinho is capable of mounting a successful challenge for an unprecedented quadruple after brushing aside Championship high-flyers Derby County in the Capital One Cup quarter-final last night.
Fabregas and Co were cruising into the semi-final draw thanks to a ninth strike of the season from Eden Hazard and Filipe Luis’s first Chelsea goal before Derby’s comeback, initiated by Craig Bryson, was stymied by Jake Buxton’s red card and Andre Schurrle’s clincher.
The Blues’ 2004/05 League Cup success proved the gateway to a trophy-laden first reign at Stamford Bridge for Mourinho but Chelsea have since had to wear the scars of three defeats in their last four quarter-final ties in the competition.
Mourinho’s intentions were reflected in a robust team selection, despite making five changes, as the Portuguese bids to end a two-season silverware drought, having previously won a trophy in every calendar year between 2003 and 2012.
“We had to be up for it and the coach knew that and put out a very strong line up and I think we deserved to go through,” said Fabregas, whose side has lost just once in 27 matches this term.
“I think we have a very strong squad, not just a team, every one performs really well and we will need everyone until the end of the season if we really want to go for everything.
“Time will tell but it is all up to us. We definitely have the talent, the discipline and the courage to do it. I’m sure of that from what I have seen so far from my short time here. I can see the team doing well but we will have to really work hard for it.”
Derby navigated the first 20 minutes unscathed only for Chelsea to strike midway through the half, Belgium dangerman Hazard collecting a pass from Fabregas before cutting inside Buxton and drilling low past Rams keeper Lee Grant.
Chelsea doubled their lead 10 minutes after the restart as Brazil full-back Luis whipped a sumptuous 25-yard free-kick over the wall and beyond Grant for his first goal since a £16m summer move from reigning Spanish champions Atletico Madrid.
The hosts halved their deficit inside the final 20 minutes, Bryson guiding home Johnny Russell’s pass via the inside of the post from the edge of the area, a goal which stemmed from substitute Branislav Ivanovic surrendering possession cheaply.
Derby’s hopes of a grandstand finish were short-lived as Buxton was adjudged to have hauled back substitute Loic Remy and dismissed, while moments later Germany’s Schurrle slammed home to settle matters.