Chelsea responded resoundingly to Maurizio Sarri’s comments at the weekend, beating fierce London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on penalties in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge.
Having trailed 1-0 from the reverse fixture two weeks ago, the Blues were buoyed by the absences of the attacking trio so pivotal to Spurs’ two victories over Chelsea this season – both Harry Kane and Dele Alli suffering long-term injuries, while Son Heung-Min was away with South Korea at the Asia Cup.
With this in mind, Chelsea quickly set about banishing the demons of Saturday evening, racing into a two-goal lead by half-time. N’Golo Kante clocked up his fourth goal of the campaign with a heavily deflected strike from the edge of the area. Eden Hazard, rejuvenated following his switch back to the left of the attacking three, doubled the lead on 38 minutes with a fine finish on the stretch.
A newly energised Spurs team emerged from the break, and within just five minutes of the restart found themselves back on terms in the tie if not on the night, when Fernando Llorente headed in from a Danny Rose cross.
With the scores level at full-time the game went straight to penalties and having seen Kepa Arrizabalaga save superbly from Lucas Moura, it was the job of David Luiz to send Chelsea through to the final against Manchester City, which he did so with ice-cold composure.
Here is how we rated the players at full time.
Kepa Arrizabalaga - 7
Showed his quality when it truly mattered, denying Lucas Moura from the spot, having had very little else to do all game.
Cesar Azpilicueta - 8
An unexpected pick to take a penalty, but he dispatched it expertly and while he was slow to close down Rose’s cross into Llorente, his defending was confident and aggressive. His fantastic cut back set up Hazard to give Chelsea the lead in the tie.
Antonio Rudiger - 7
Intercepted cross field balls in behind well, and stepped out to win numerous headed clearances.
David Luiz - 7
Scored an emphatic winning penalty, while his diagonal passes helped Chelsea spread the Tottenham defence and create chances in the channels. Should’ve done a lot better when Llorente beat him to the ball for the goal that bought Spurs back into the tie.
Emerson - 8
Marcos Alonso will have been left sweating after Emerson’s impressive performance.
He was well disciplined defensively, but his impact came from the lung-busting touch and go runs he made down the left flank, overlapping to great success. His crosses received a mixed reception, but ultimately it was his ball deep into injury time that should’ve been headed in by Giroud.
Ross Barkley - 6.5
Energetic and decisive in the first half, drawing fouls and linking play, but he faded badly after the interval and was withdrawn for Mateo Kovacic.
Jorginho - 7
A marked improvement on his performances over recent weeks, with a more expansive forward-thinking range to his passing – although this did lead him to gift possession cheaply at times.
Stood up well enough to a maintained spell of pressure from Tottenham early in the second-half, and rounded off a good display with his signature penalty kick.
N'Golo Kante - 8
Possibly the first player to nutmeg three players with one shot, is there anything this man can’t do? All jokes aside his goal probably should’ve been saved, and his most important contribution came in covering Azpilicueta when Rose pushed high up.
Pedro - 6.5
Squandered a couple of good shooting positions, losing his footing. Offered energy in helping to stretch the Tottenham defence and making darting runs inside off the flanks.
Olivier Giroud - 6
His hold up play was useful but lacked any cutting edge in crucial areas. In playing as an out and out striker he allowed Hazard to thrive. Gonzalo Higuain will hopefully provide the goals that Giroud is failing to come up with at the moment.
Eden Hazard - 8.5
Sprung into life midway through the first-half getting on to the ball with greater regularity and bringing with it set pieces, from which Chelsea would eventually make pay when Kante converted after the ball broke from a corner.
He started and finished the move that brought about Chelsea’s second goal of the game, stretching to poke in Azpilicueta’s cross.
He continued to dominate in the second half, albeit under the watchful eye of Tottenham’s entire midfield and defence. Missed a good chance when put through by Kante.
Willian – 5.5, already looked tired when he came on, misplacing a few awful passes and hitting a shot well over the bar when Chelsea were building momentum. Scored his penalty though.
Mateo Kovacic – 6, linked up with Hazard to good effect playing a few effective one two’s with the Belgian.