BY PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea squeezed home against Derby County 3-2 in the Carabao Cup at Stamford Bridge, but this was a poor performance from the home side, but a pulsating match for the fans that saw the Blues take the lad three times before getting pegged back twice.
Two own goals and a Cesc Fabregas drive from close range saw off the hard-working visitors who more than anything epitomised manager Frank Lampard as a player. Dogged, full of energy and with touches of real class, they were unlucky not to get a late third equaliser as substitute David Nugent saw a low shot rebound off the post and into the palms of Willy Caballero.
With the chants for Frank Lampard by booth side put to bed, the game started and, as expected the Home side dominated the opening exchanges.
Mateo Kovacic had a shot, which while wayward, signalled the Blues’s intent that they wanted an early goal.
And it came, in disastrous circumstances for Chelsea loanee centre-back Fikayo Tomori on five minutes who scored an own goal.
A regulation byline dire by David Zappacosta was misread by Tomori and the ball, cannoned off the inside of his right vocals, and deflected i to the far post, leaving goalkeeper Scott Carson looking on in horror.
In their first attack, Derby scored, exposing the fragility of Chelsea’s defence.
Jack Marriott taking full advantage of firstly \Gary Cahill’s poor pass to Cesc Fabregas, and then the centre-back slipped over allowing Marriott to race clear on the left and zip home a low, left-footer across Willy Caballero to level the score on 10 minutes.
Quite how the Rams failed to core on 17 minutes is anybodies guess. With Andreas Christensen abandoning his centre-back berth for a misjudged tackle in midfield, Martyn Waghorn took advantage and raced clear. However, while the chasing pack could not catch him, the striker ran out of puff and the slipped over tapping the ball to Caballero in the process.
Unbelievably the Blues retook the lead on 22 minutes in almost identical circumstances from their first. Again Zappacosta sent across a right byline cross. But this time Richard Keogh stuck out a leg and deflected the ball past the hapless Carson.
Derby decided to score proper goals and on 27 minutes, they were level again. This time another Chelsea loanee Mason Mount took advantage of a porous defence and slide the perfect left footer across the Chelsea six-yard box and wag horn had the easiest chance of his career to tap the ball home.
Chelsea’s class finally told five minutes before the break and it was an excellent goal by Fabregas after a dummy by Zappacosta saw the Spain midfielder drive a powerful right-footer on target. Carson, was perhaps caught out of position and could only get a left hand onto the ball as it zipped into the back of the net.
There were no changes from either side at half-time. But the first change did come on 66 minutes and it was Christensen who made way for David Luiz. The Denmark defender looked a bit shocked to be substituted.
Caballero made a fine save from a Marriott pile-driver. The ball looped high into the air but dropped just over the bar.
Pedro came on for Loftus-Cheek two minutes later.
Such was Sarri’s worry that the Blues might concede a third goal, he opted to bring on defender Cesar Azpilicueta for fellow right back Zappacosta.
Morata could have killed the game off but his near post header from a William corner was parried away by Carson.
Caballero foiled Keogh and Mason Mount in the space of 30 seconds as the visitors ended the game strongly.
Cahill was caught out as substitute David Nugent outpaced the defender and beat Caballero. But his daisy-cutter rebounded off he upright and into the grateful palms of the Argentina goalkeeper
Teams: Chelsea, Caballero, Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson, Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas , Kovacic, Kante, Willian, Morata,
Subs, Bulka, Drinkwater, barkley, Pedro, Hudson-Odoi, Azpilicueta, Luiz
Derby, Carson, Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Malone, Wilson, Mount, Lawrence, Huddlestone, Waghorn, Marriott
Subs, Roos, Forsyth, Johnson, Bennett, Holmes, Nugent, Davis
Referee: Jonathan Mossj