Highlights: Chelsea (2) 1-0 (1) Liverpool; Chelsea book a ticket to Wembley after extra-time
Chelsea knocked out 8-times winners Liverpool from the Capital One Cup in the semi-final with a 1-0 win at home. Branislav Ivanovic scored the goal that put the Blues into the final of the league cup.
Chelsea made 9 changes to their line-up which lost to Bradford, while Liverpool made 5 from their draw against Bolton in the FA Cup. Chelsea had scored the crucial away goal at Anfield in a 1-1 draw in the first leg and hosted Liverpool, who needed to score a goal at the very least to have a chance of qualifying for the final.
Liverpool started the match sharply, creating many chances in the first half. However, their finishing was off the mark as they contained the home side and hit them on the counter-attack. They created plenty of chances but, Thibaut Courtois pulled off brilliant saves – first from Alberto Moreno and then from Philippe Coutinho.
Early in the half, there was controversy as Diego Costa looked to have stamped on Emre Can, but the Spaniard escaped punishment from referee Michael Oliver. Costa was again in the eye of the storm as he was denied a penalty after going down in the box under a challenge by Martin Skrtel. The half petered out to a close with Chelsea hanging on courtesy of Courtois.
The second half brought injuries to either side, with Cesc Fabregas and Mamadou Sakho both coming off. That proved to be the turning point of the match as Chelsea started getting behind the Liverpool defence after the Frenchman’s withdrawal. Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, like his counterpart in the opposite goal, was on the top of his game as he kept the home side from scoring with a couple of brilliant saves.
Liverpool decided to close out the second half knowing the away goals rule does not come into play till the 120th minute. Chelsea couldn’t find a way past the resolute away defence in the final few minutes of normal time.
Lucas Leiva conceded a free-kick at the start of extra time after a poor pass from Mario Balotelli was intercepted by Eden Hazard. The resulting free kick saw Ivanovic head the ball into the back of the net after he was left free inside the penalty box.
Jordan Henderson missed a glorious chance to level things moments after when he headed wide after some smart play by Raheem Sterling got him free off two Chelsea defenders.. Costa also got in an altercation with Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, as both the players were booked and Chelsea held out for the rest of the match with relative ease.
Thibaut Courtois was once again awarded the Man of the Match award. The result meant that Brendan Rodgers is yet to win against Jose Mourinho having faced the Portuguese four times, avoiding defeat just once. Chelsea will have to wait until tomorrow to find out who they play at Wembley for the trophy as Sheffield United host Tottenham trailing by a single goal.
Diego Costa stamps
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool: Branislav Ivanovic (94’)
A Willian cross found Ivanovic free inside the penalty area and the Serbian made no mistake as he headed the ball into the back of the net.