Chelsea reached the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, winning a penalty shootout 4-3 after 90 exhilarating minutes had finished 1-1. Reece James sent visiting goalkeeper Fraser Forster the wrong way after Theo Walcott and Will Smallbone had missed penalties for Southampton, who deserved at least the opportunity to take part in the lottery.
“A superb game,” noted Ralph Hasenhuttl, the Southampton manager. “They have not had an easy evening. The result is a pity, but we were tremendous.”
If the denouement was hard on anyone, it was hard on Forster. He was outstanding in goal for Southampton’s makeshift team, while Stuart Armstrong and Mohammed Salisu both deserved more than defeat, but Chelsea’s understudies played their part and they held their nerve over 12 yards.
“We deserved it,” claimed Thomas Tuchel, the Chelsea head coach. “But we got unprecise and sloppy with our passing and lacked composure, but it was a nice match, a tough match.”
Inevitably there were changes from the weekend’s starting line-ups: six for Chelsea and nine for Southampton. Ross Barkley made his first Chelsea start in any competition for 13 months, but head coach Thomas Tuchel took no chances. Antonio Rudiger, Jorginho, Thiago Silva, Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were on the bench, only to be used in case of emergency.
With the fringe players hungry for more starting berths, there was a certain no-holds-barred freneticism. Chest out, legs pumping, face reddening, Barkley in particular tore into Southampton with gusto, revelling in his role as a freewheeling auxiliary striker. Yan Valery struggled to deal with him until he took a less laissez-faire approach to man-marking, but it was from Barkley’s corner that Chelsea almost went ahead in the sixth minute when Fraser Forster brilliantly tipped aside a header from Saul, another man with much to prove.
Forster’s evening was not going to be especially serene and he was saving his team again soon afterwards, when Marcos Alonso – not for the last time – hurtled forwards through the gap left by Valery sticking to Barkley. Alonso found Kai Havertz, who left Lyanco trailing, before firing towards goal. Again, Forster was outstanding.
Southampton, though, had ideas of their own and once things settled down, they gave as good as they got. Like Chelsea they deployed three strikers and in Stuart Armstrong – still to manage a league start this season – they had someone to service them. When Adam Armstrong switched wings with Nathan Tella, Southampton began to carry a real threat as they slowly grew into the game. Just after the half hour, Kepa Arrizabalaga was seriously called upon for the only time in the first period when Stuart Armstrong’s drive deflected off Malang Sarr.
With half-time beckoning, Chelsea snuck ahead. Lyanco conceded a cheap corner. Hakim Ziyech slung it in from the left and Havertz leapt above a leaden-footed Kyle Walker-Peters to head his third goal of the season past Forster.
If Southampton had been a little unlucky before the break, they enjoyed a slice of good fortune when they equalised just after it. Sarr gave away possession, but Arrizabalaga should have dealt with Walter-Peters’s subsequent shot, but it went through his legs and Che Adams tapped in from the closest of ranges.
Startled by the equaliser, Chelsea hit back hard. Forster again distinguishing himself when saving with his legs from Havertz and, more conventionally, from Barkley and more athletically from Saul. Tuchel, happily inside his dugout during the periods of Chelsea ascendency, began to berate the fourth official and his own players, while Southampton defended like Trojans.
Soon, Tichel had seen enough. On came big guns Mount and Chilwell and with them a move further forwards for Callum Hudson-Odoi but, for a period, Southampton were on top. Stuart Armstrong continued to hold midfield sway, Moussa Djenepo added a maverick touch and Shane Long’s bustle discombobulated the less worldly Chelsea back three.
Arrizabalaga partially redeemed himself with a fine point-blank range stop from Smallbone and a better one from Lyanco’s later header, but as cramp struck several Southampton players, Chelsea looked to finish things in the 90. With man-mountain Salisu the rock the waves of Chelsea attacks broke upon, Southampton held firm. Until the penalties.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Arrizabalaga ; James Chalobah, Sarr; Hudson-Odoi, Kovacic, Saul, Alonso; Ziyech (Mount, 67), Havertz, Barkley (Chilwell, 67)
Not used: Bettinelli (g), Sharman-Lowe (g), Rudiger, Jorginho, Silva, Vale.
Southampton (4-3-3): Forster; Walker-Peters, Valery, Lyanco, Salisu; S. Armstrong (Smallbone, 78), Diallo (Romeu, 77), Djenepo (Livramento, 83); Tella (Walcott, 66), Adams (Long, 66), A. Armstrong.
Not used: Lewis (g), Redmond, Perraud, Bednarek
Booked: Diallo, Djenepo, Forster
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
QPR ‘staggered’ at disallowed goal as League One Sunderland progress
by Nick Szczepanik at Loftus Road
Mark Warburton, the QPR manager, described as “staggering” a decision by referee Keith Stroud and his assistant to disallow a potential winning goal from Charlie Austin in Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup Cup tie.
The QPR top scorer, on as a substitute, was ruled offside after a shot by Albert Adomah had deflected to him off Sunderland defender Dennis Cirkin. Replays showed he had been onside.
The game remained goalless for nine more minutes and Sunderland won on penalties, which was a bitter pill for QPR after they had been ruthless from 12 yards in winning a shoot-out 8-7 against Everton in the previous round.
This time their nerve failed them as Sunderland went through to the last eight for the first time since they reached the final in 2013-14. Austin had the first shot saved by goalkeeper Lee Burge and both Ilias Chair and Yoann Barbet shot over.
Warburton had sent top scorer Austin on in the hope that he would find a winner in a game where the quality of the finishing failed to live up to the attacking intent on both sides. It should have paid off.
“I’ve just seen the picture,” Warburton said. “What can I say without getting fined? It’s staggering to be that wrong on a major decision in a game of that importance. We’re not talking about an inch. It’s feet between Charlie being onside and offside. Those types of decisions, you cannot get it wrong.
“I can’t sit in front of you and say that was our game, that we deserved to go through. But this level, with what’s at take, the financial implications for the club, big crowds home and away, everything which comes with progression to the last eight, I’ve never been so shocked.”
Sunderland, fourth in League One, had matched the Championship promotion hopefuls and might have expected to win in normal time after making the brighter start, but QPR goalkeeper Seny Dieng denied Leon Dajaku and Dan Neil.
Rangers were not seen as an attacking force until the 14th Barbet’s shot from 20 yards looked bound for the bottom corner of the net but Burge dived full length to his right to turn the ball aside. Then Kakay cut a loose ball back to Chair only for the Rangers playmaker to smack his low first-time shot a foot wide. And Sunderland defender Frederik Alves almost showed how it was done, slicing an attempted clearance inches over his own crossbar.
But neither team could find the firepower to match some good creative play, and penalties felt inevitable.
“I thought bar a 20-minute spell in the first half we were worth the draw and the victory,” Lee Johnson, the Sunderland manager, said.
Queens Park Rangers (3-5-2): Dieng; Dickie, De Wijs, Barbet; Kakay (Adomah 72), Amos (Duke-McKenna 84), Chair, Willock (Dozzell 73), Odubajo; Gray (Austin 62), Dykes.
Subs: Archer (g), Johansen, Ball, Dunne, Drewe.
Booked: De Wijs.
Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Burge; Winchester, Alves (Doyle 69), Wright, Hume (Cirkin 24); Evans (O’Brien 64); Neil, Gooch (McGeady 64), O’Nien, Dajaku (Pritchard 69); Stewart.
Subs: Hoffman, Flanagan, Harris, Wearne.
Booked: O’Nien, Gooch.
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).