18th of January 2018

Blues go through after FA Cup rollercoaster (1-5 / 1-3)

The Blues go through on a night of high drama. Michy Batshuayi marked his 50th Chelsea appearance with the goal that looked to have settled this cup-tie at the second attempt, only for Norwich to send the game into extra-time with seconds left of the original 90 minutes.

Extra-time produced no goals but there were red cards for both Pedro and Alvaro Morata, and plenty of Assistant Video Referee talking points. When it came to the penalty shoot-out the pressure was on, but we stood up to it well with a perfect five out of five whereas Willy Caballero superbly saved Norwich’s first. When Eden Hazard slotted his we had sealed our place in the next round of this season’s FA Cup.

Way back at the start, we had to wait 15 minutes longer than anticipated for tonight’s third-round replay to commence, after travel disruption in the local area delayed many fans’ arrival at Stamford Bridge and therefore kick-off, and the wait for the opening goal was extended into the early stages of the second half before Batshuayi obliged from close range.

Both sides had struck woodwork in a first half in which the Blues had done most of the attacking but Norwich did so again after we had taken the lead and they were not to be denied an eventual equaliser.

The side picked by Antonio Conte for this replay was unchanged in attack and midfield from the one that drew 0-0 at Carrow Road, and Caballero was again in goal, but there were two changes either side of David Luiz in defence from that game. Cesar Azpilicueta was tonight’s captain, played on the left of the back three, and young Ethan Ampadu was handed his third Chelsea start on the right.

The game began with, of course, one question on most people’s lips. Could the Blues find a way through to goal after three shut-outs in a row? One time-honoured way to trouble a team keeping plenty of players back in defence is decent shooting from distance, and Drinkwater, who had scored at the same end of Stamford Bridge early on in the big win over Stoke, struck one such effort on six minutes which the keeper saved.

Willian had a decent strike too early on which Angus Dunn could not hold but the ball ran safely for the visitors, and on 10 minutes our Brazilian winger screwed an effort across goal after chesting an Azpi delivery into a shooting position. Between those attempts, a Tiemoue Bakayoko header from a corner went close. We were finding spaces when we attacked.

Willian was seeing plenty of the ball and won a free-kick on 13 minutes. He stood over it although it was compatriot David Luiz who struck for goal but aimed too close to Gunn, who began an attack which brought his former team-mate Caballero into action for the first time. The Argentinian took a chance in racing out of his area but did get his clearance away into the East Stand.

Davide Zappacosta threatened to make something happen on the right a couple of times, and Batshuayi was unfortunate to be flagged offside when sent on the attack by Kenedy, so we reached the midway point of the half scoreless, but went immensely close to taking the lead soon after.

It was Drinkwater again trying his luck from distance and he caught the shot cleanly. The ball dipped on target but the fingertips of Gunn diverted it onto the crossbar.

It was soon 1-1 in terms of woodwork strikers however, with Nelson Oliveira, the Canaries centre-forward who had only been brought on in the second half of the first game, hitting a shot equal to Drinkwater’s and he too saw it dip and hit the crossbar but not go in. The Portuguese got another shot in a couple of minutes later but struck that one wide. Then Josh Murphy had the chance to counter-attack and squared the ball to no avail, but these were unsteady moments for Chelsea. Half-time was drawing close.

The Blues returned to being the game’s attacking force but there was still no breakthrough before the interval.

Another 10 minutes of the game were needed after the second half began for Batshuayi to hit the net and bring the wait for a goal to an end. There is no doubting the Belgian’s ability to get into the six-yard box at the right time if the ball is delivered there and this time it was. The move started with a Kenedy throw, Willian then returning the ball for Kenedy to cross low. The Canaries defence was static as Michy stepped forward to turn the ball high into the net.

It was not a game done and dusted yet however, and Norwich hit the post through James Maddison after Caballero had got mixed up with his own defenders while punching a cross away. The Chelsea keeper soon redeemed himself for any fault on his part with a brilliant save from Maddison who had seemed certain to score.

Before that save, Pedro was booked for simulation as he tried to go past Dunn following a Kenedy through ball.

Drinkwater fired over when well set-up by Willian and Bakayoko had a low drive saved before, with 10 minutes to go of normal time, Alvaro Morata came on and straight away nearly headed in a Drinkwater cross. Andreas Christensen replaced Ampadu who had again looked to have plenty of potential, not least close to the end of his game when Norwich attacked him in the penalty area but he stood firm.

We could have wrapped it up with another goal before the 90 minutes were up had we played a couple of attacking hands better and were made to pay with 93 minutes played. Jamal Lewis was the scorer of the equaliser, heading in off the far post having got between David Luiz and Azpilicueta to meet Timm Klose’s excellent cross.

There was a big talking point right at the start of extra-time, with Willian following Pedro into the book for simulation having gone down as he tried to go past Klose. The Video Assistant Ref may have been brought into play, and there was some contact between boot and leg, but the decision stood.

Maddison was booked for a foul on Kante before a small moment of Chelsea history. FA Cup rules now allow a fourth substitute to be used in extra-time and that man was Eden Hazard, brought on for Drinkwater.

Twice before the interval Gunn kept the Canaries level. The first save was from Willian after a classy move that also involved Morata, and then from the Spaniard who had to half-volley goalwards first time.

The second period of extra-time began. Morata worked space but had a shot blocked but the Norwich defence were showing the strain. Morata appealed for a hand-ball in the box but again the VAR did not agree.

Chelsea pressed for a late winner and tried to move the ball quickly. Morata was found by a wickedly curling Zappacosta cross but from a standing start, could not head past Gunn.

With time running out, Pedro fouled Wes Hoolahan in midfield and was shown his second yellow card and was off. Then in the dying seconds we were reduced to nine men. Morata went down in the area under challenge from Christoph Zimmermann and was shown a yellow card. He said something and another caution followed. He too was off.

Norwich could still have won it in extra-time but Klose’s header from a free-kick right at the end was thankfully saveable.

Both Chelsea and Norwich had lost our three preceding penalty shoot-outs, and whether either Pedro or Morata would have taken one of tonight’s penalties we do not know but from those on the pitch, the first for Chelsea was taken by Willian, who scored.

Norwich’s first from Oliveira was superbly saved by Caballero before David Luiz smashed Chelsea’s second home off his long run.

Maddison scored for Norwich, as did Azpilicueta empatically for Chelsea. Mario Vrancic also scored but there was no stopping Kante with Chelsea’s fourth scored out of four. Josh Murphy was successful for Norwich but if Hazard netted the next then it was Chelsea’s night. It was no problem.

The Belgian rolled his penalty home and the Blues are through to Round Four of this season’s FA Cup, where a home game against Newcastle United awaits.


- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Caballero; Ampadu (Christensen 81), David Luiz, Azpilicueta (c); Zappacosta, Bakayoko (Hazard 99), Drinkwater, Kenedy (Kante 87), Willian, Batshuayi (Morata 81), Pedro.

Scorer Batshuayi 55
Sent off Pedro 117, Morata 120
Booked Pedro 62, Willian 92, Morata 120

Norwich (3-4-3): Gunn; Ivo Pinto (c) (Tettey 116), Zimmermann, Hanley (Cantwell 86) (Stiepermann 120+1), Klose, Lewis, Reed (Hoolahan 82), Vrancic; Maddison, Oliveira, Murphy.

Unused subs McGovern, Husband, Raggett.
Scorer Lewis 90+4
Booked Maddison 97

Penalty shoot-out
Willian – scored
David Luiz – scored
Azpilicueta – scored
Kante – scored
Hazard – scored

Oliveira – saved
Maddison – scored
Vrancic – scored
Murphy – scored

Referee Graham Scott
Crowd 39,684


- Match report by chelseafc.com

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