BY PAUL LAGAN
At Wembley Stadium
Chelsea 0 v Manchester City 0 (3-4 on pens)
Chelsea lost a sensational penalty kick shoot-out as the Londoners confounded the critics by taking Manchester City to the death in the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley – losing 4-3 after it was 0-0 after extra time.
That they lost was due to two missed penalties from Jorginho and David Luiz.
The drama, while centring on the kicks, exposed a player power revolt by one of head coach’s Maurizio Sarri’s player, namely Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Spain stopper refused to be substituted late in extra time, while clearly struggling. He twice sought treatment, and while reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballero was ready – Kepa refused to leave the pitch.
Sarri was furious and stormed down the tunnel. He returned soon after but still had to be ushered away from a confrontation with Sarri by Antonio Rudiger as the players prepared for the sport kicks.
Chelsea started with the same formation that earned them a 2-0 victory over Manchester City in the league at Stamford Bridge- namely the false no9. Again Eden Hazard was sacrificed to play that lone role.
The tactic worked as the Blues managed to continue lacklustre City for the first 45 minutes and the Londoners dominated the second period.
Extra-time seemed inevitably and it’s was and penalty kicks to boot.
Chelsea thought they had a clear case for a foul on N’Golo Kante on 10 minutes, after he latched onto a long ball by David Luiz. Oleksandr Zinchenko appeared to have nudged the Frenchman over, but referee Jon Moss decided there was no infringement. Had he given a foul, the centre-back could well have been sent off as the last man.
After what seemed eternal possession by City, they finally foraged a chance on 23 minutes, Bernardo Silva sending over a deep cross for Sergio Aguero. The Argentina striker took a touch before letting fly. Thankfully for the Chelsea fans, the ball sailed high over Kepa Arrizabalaga’s crossbar.
Was on target on 28 minutes, but his edge of the penalty area, low shot, was scuffed and easily held by the diving Kepa.
David Luiz went in to Moss’s book for a clumsy and late challenge on Bernardo Silva on 31 minutes.
Seconds from half-time, Eden Hazard went on a mazy run and almost single-handily ran through the whole City rearguard. Eventually his shot, on target, was deflected away to safety .
A freak back to goal header by Nicholas Otamendi almost created an own goal, but the ball inched wide.
City made one change at half-timer, Vincent Kompany replaced Aymeric Laporte. Chelsea kept the same starting 11.
City piled on the pressure right from the of, Aguero was unlucky not to connect with a great byline cross from Keven De Bruyne three minutes in.
The game erupted on 55 minutes from the stupor of it’s own making, when Hazard suddenly sprinted clear. Zinchenko brilliantly dispossessed the Belgium playmaker in the City penalty area, before setting up a quick counter-attack which City almost scored from.
VAR came into play two minutes later when it appeared that Aguero was offside, but it took Moss a min ute of c hacking with the VAR officials before confirming the initial decision. However video showed that Aguero and Luiz’s heels were side by side when the pass came through to the striker. A magnificent break by Hazard on 67 minutes saw the Blues have their best chance of the game. He zipped past Kompany before cutting back a byline ball to in-running Kante. The midfielder took the ball first time withy his left boot but skied the effort over Emerson’s goal.
Another Break by the Blues saw Ross barkley curl a right-footer over the bar with 20 minutes on the clock.
Following a break by City when three challenges could have resulted in yellow cards, Rudiger was the one who entered Moss’s book for felling De Bruyne on the edge of the Chelsea penalty area. De Bryune smacked the free kick over Kepa’s crossbar.
With 12 minutes left Maurizio Sarri brought on Callum Hudson-Odoi for Pedro, while Pep Guardiola brought on Ilkay Gundogan for David Silva.
Leroy Sane entered the fray for City, replacing De Bryune with four minutes of normal time remaining.
Jorginho took one for the team – a yellow card – from a quick break by Raheem Sterling, upending the wide man as he was running clear.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Barkley.
Ederson tipped over an excellent Willian free-kick as the game headed into added time.
Guardiola brought on Danilo as the rules allow a fourth substitution during extra time.,
Fernandinho, who was injured late on in normal time was carried off the pitch.
Sarri brought on striker Gonzalo Higuain for Willian.
That allowed Hazard to resume his preferred left wing position.
A game of ping ball inside the Chelsea penalty area caused all sort of problems for the west Londoners, but somehow they managed to scramble the ball away 20 minutes into extra time as City piled on the pressure.
With three minutes left City, broke free, Rudiger slipped allowing the striker to get his shot away, Kepa, already struggling with an injury did well to grasp the ball.
Sarri told reserve goalie to get ready and Willy Caballero was about to replace Kepa, when the young keeper said he was okay.
Caballero sat down again only to to told by Sarri to go back on. Kepa refused to come off and player power won the day with Kepa staying on.
Sarri was furious and stormed down the tunnel. He returned seconds later still fuming with his bench.
As the players prepared for the penalty kicks, Rudiger ushered Sarri away from what looked like a potential confrontations with Kepa.
Jorginho missed – a terrible tap by the Brazil-born Italian. Ederson easily stopped the ball going in. Gundogan gave city the leads by scoring.
Upo stepped Azpilicueta, and he scored with a beauty to level it at 1-1. Aguero was next up for City and he slotted home under the goalkeeper to restore the lead to 2-1.
Chelsea’s Emerson strode up to take the third Chelsea kick, and he scored, with Ederson, getting a hand to the ball to level it again at 2-2.
Sane was the next penalty taker for City and Kepa brilliantly dived to his right to tip the ball away from goal to keep it all level at 2-2 with three kicks apiece taken.
David Luiz shot rattled Ederson’s right post.
Bernardo Silva restored the lead for City.
Eden Hazard had to score and hope City missed their fifth. He cheekily chipped the ball in.
Sterling walked up to take City’s fifth kick – if he scored City won – he did as he smashed the ball high into Kepa’s net.
Teams: Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Emerson, Jorginho, Kante, Barkley, Hazard, Pedro, Willian, Azpilicueta
Subs: Caballero, Higuain, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Christensen
Man City: Edierson, Walker, Sterling, Aguero, Laporte, De Bruyne, Silva, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Zinchenko.
Subs, Muric, Danilo, Kompany, Gundogan, Sane, Mahrez, Foden