Chelsea win 4-3 on penalties
TEN-MAN Chelsea won only their second penalty shoot-out in nine attempts at the expense of west London rivals Fulham in an incident packed Carling Cup third round tie at Stamford Bridge last night.
Fulham’s £11m deadline day signing Bryan Ruiz, who has endured a nightmare start to life at his new club, missed the decisive spot-kick in agonising circumstances – the ball crashing against the underside of the crossbar and landing flush on the goal-line, before rising skywards to graze the woodwork again.
Victory, despite attempts to rest the majority of his key men, may come at a cost to Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, who lost Petr Cech and Daniel Sturridge to injury.
Defender Alex, meanwhile, will serve a one-match suspension for the professional foul on Kerim Frei, which presented the Pajtim Kasami with the chance to win the game from the penalty spot in normal time, which he squandered by striking the crossbar.
Despite those repercussions, Villas-Boas would have been encouraged by his trio of full debutants Oriol Romeu, Romelu Lukaku and Ryan Bertrand, whose performances hinted at a strength in depth hitherto unappreciated.
But it was youngster Josh McEachran who created the best chance of the first half with a low centre, converted from an off-side position by Sturridge, who was injured in the act of scoring the disallowed goal.
Cech, meanwhile, suffering from mild concussion, was replaced at half-time by Ross Turnbull. And after Sa had missed from the spot, the former Middlesbrough stopper produced a miracle save to prevent John Terry putting through his own net.
Extra-time was a largely uneventful affair, but the same could not be said of the subsequent shoot-out. First up, Frank Lampard saw his effort saved at full-length by Mark Schwarzer, but Moussa Dembele’s miss allowed Chelsea off the hook.
Florent Malouda’s successful conversion heaped the pressure on Ruiz, who failed to keep his side in the tie by the narrowest of margins.
CARLING CUP | WHO’S IN THE HAT?
The following 16 teams will go into Saturday’s fourth round draw: Aldershot, Arsenal, Bolton, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Man Utd, Newcastle, Stoke, Wolves, Crystal Palace, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Cardiff, Southampton, Everton.