Chelsea beat Premier League rivals Southampton on penalties after a 1-1 draw
Chelsea advanced to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals after defeating Premier League rivals Southampton on penalties following a 1-1 draw. After Theo Walcott and Will Smallbone’s shots for the Saints failed to strike the target, Reece James scored the game-winning penalty for the league leaders.
Both teams made changes for the match, with Chelsea bringing in six different players from their 7-0 Premier League victory over Norwich at the weekend, and the visitors bringing in nine players.
The hosts improved their rhythm and took the lead a minute before halftime when Kai Havertz headed in a corner for his third goal of the season.
After Kepa mishandled Kyle Walker-Peters’ shot, Southampton answered two minutes after the restart when Che Adams stabbed in from close range. As play swung fast from one end to the other, the goals brought the game to life.
Fraser Forster pushed over a James drive from a quick free-kick to keep the hosts in the game, while replacement Shane Long headed wide for the visitors.
Smallbone’s late header was saved by Kepa, who then made two fantastic saves in stoppage time to deny Lyanco and Mohammed Salisu, marking his return to the first team after nine months out due to an ACL injury.
Hands up if you're through to the next round! 🙋♂️ pic.twitter.com/uXWrPbIxTV— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 26, 2021
Those proved important as Chelsea won the penalty shootout to keep their hopes of winning the Premier League alive this season.
The quarter-final draw will take place at 10:30 a.m. BST on Saturday.
“It was an exciting encounter of football,” remarked Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, who disclosed that injuries to César Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek interrupted his preparations in the build-up to the match.
“It was a free-for-all, a tense match.” We had a great shootout with a lot of high-quality shots. Kepa saved one, but it was also a miss.
“We are happy that we made it because it was a completely new team. There were a lot of changes.”
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “It was a thriller and a typical cup tie. We wanted to give them a tough evening and we did, I think. It is a pity we couldn’t take the win but I am very proud of my team. Everyone did a fantastic job.”
The Blues have had a strong start to the season, both at home and in Europe, as they sit atop the Premier League table and have won two of their three Champions League games so far.
With games coming thick and fast, Tuchel was justified in resting some of his first-team players and giving those on the margins a chance to shine.
The newcomers put in a mixed performance; Kepa stood out with a critical double save, and Saul Niguez came close to scoring his first goal for the club twice.
Ross Barkley, who was making his first start of the season, and Hakim Ziyech, on the other hand, went completely unnoticed and were brought off with 23 minutes remaining.
Chelsea needed penalties to advance in the League Cup for the second time this season, after defeating Aston Villa 4-3 in the previous round, but they eventually prevailed.
Tuchel will have taken advantage of this opportunity to learn more about his players as the Blues continue to compete in a variety of events.