Morris strikes late to save Chelsea

 

A goal from Jody Morris two minutes from the end of extra time took Chelsea into the last eight of the English League Cup at Stamford Bridge last night after they fallen behind to Southampton early in the second half.

Kevin Davies gave Southampton the lead only for Tore Andre Flo to bring the scores level nine minutes later. The tie appeared to be heading for a penalty shoot-out but Mark Hughes, who had come off the Chelsea bench in extra time, laid the ball back for Morris to beat Southampton goalkeeper Paul Jones. While last night's Chelsea team was denuded of its Italians, with Gianluca Vialli suspended and Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo rested, Ruud Gullit again decided that the League Cup was something for which he could don his boots.

Southampton's direct style, pivoting on Matthew Le Tissier and exploiting the new attacking combination of Kevin Davies and David Hirst, offered a sharp contrast to Chelsea's studious passing game.

More than that, it nearly brought them a goal in the opening minute. Davies set up the chance for Hirst but his shot clipped the top of the crossbar. Just past the quarter-hour Davies was again the provider and Hirst the recipient, this time meeting a low centre at the far post only to see Kevin Hitchcock drop smartly on the ball.

Bernard Lambourde and Morris produced promising long-range shots but neither Flo nor Mark Nicholls found it easy to disturb Ken Monkou and Claus Kundekvam in the middle of the Southampton defence.

As half-time approached, Southampton must have begun to wonder if their earlier near-misses would be portend a Chelsea lead but for this to happen the quality of Chelsea's crosses and final passes needed to improve.

In fact, Davies soon began to set Southampton's minds at rest. Twice at the start of the second half he raced clear of Chelsea's defence, twice he was intercepted, and twice there were claims for a penalty.

Gullit was initially at fault when Southampton took the lead in the 52nd minute. The Dutchman lost a tackle in midfield with Carlton Palmer, Le Tissier took the ball on and sent Davies through a square defence to beat Hitchcock with a shot that grazed the inside of the left-hand post. At that point Southampton deserved their lead but falling behind galvanised Chelsea into urgent action. Eight minutes later Crittenden set up a chance for Flo that the Norwegian accepted with a low shot from close range to bring the score level.