Chelsea see off Derby to reach League Cup semis

Mourinho’s side beat 10-men Championship flyers to put themselves two games from Wembley

Eden Hazard celebrates scoring Chelsea’s opener during their League Cup quarter-final win overDerby County ( Photograph: REUTERS/Darren Staples)

Eden Hazard celebrates scoring Chelsea’s opener during their League Cup quarter-final win overDerby County ( Photograph: REUTERS/Darren Staples)

 

Derby County 1 Chelsea 3

José Mourinho is closing in on a sixth major trophy that would end the “drought” of his second Chelsea tenure. The passage to the Capital One Cup semi-finals next month was not completely smooth after Derby County briefly dreamed of a comeback.

After 71 minutes, Chelsea gave the ball away and when it came to Craig Bryson he made no mistake. Yet the home support’s joy soon faded when the substitute Loïc Rémy raced on to a pass and Jake Buxton clashed with the forward. After consulting the assistant, Jonathan Moss showed the red card, the referee judging him to be the last man.

André Schürrle then made it 3-1 to offer Mourinho a chance to claim again the cup that began his supremely successful first spell in charge at Chelsea.

Before the kick-off the PA announced: “This is your two minute warning.” It may have seemed like a statement of intent from Derby, though it should perhaps have been Steve McClaren’s team bracing themselves against gilded opponents.

Mourinho indicated how seriously Chelsea were taking the tie in his selection. The Portuguese made five changes from the side that beat Hull City 2-0 on Saturday but still fielded a powerhouse of an XI.

In came Didier Drogba, Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Schürrle and Cesc Fàbregas in a team that also had their captain, John Terry, together with Petr Cech, Mikel John Obi, Eden Hazard, Filipe Luís, Kurt Zouma and Nemanja Matic.

If Derby hoped to find any kind of encouragement from Chelsea’s bench there was none to be had with Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires, Willian and Diego Costa among the seven replacements.

The contest began slowly: there was a corner for the visitors, a couple of speculative forays downfield for Derby, and a foul on Matic by Craig Bryson near the centre circle.

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The quicker brains and feet of Fàbregas and Schürrle appeared the greatest threat to Derby’s defence, the attacking midfield duo attacking primarily through central areas and along the left.

It was from this flank that Chelsea opened the scoring. Fàbregas pinged the ball to Hazard, who cut in from the left across Derby’s area then reversed a smart shot that wrong-footed Lee Grant and beat the goalkeeper to his right.

This was a case of class telling though Mourinho cannot have been content at his side’s disjointed play.

As the break neared they were in control though the match remained bitty, with Chelsea occasionally resorting to the long ball up to Drogba, who was having an ongoing tussle with Jake Buxton and Richard Keogh, the home centre-backs. After 40 minutes Derby had two corners then a free-kick in their best passage of play in the opening period.

Fàbregas, Filipe Luís, Terry and Schürrle all tried to clear but the home side won a third corner. From Johnny Russell’s delivery from the right Cech punched the ball away convincingly and Zouma ended on the floor, having collided with the goalkeeper and Keogh.

As the stretcher was called for the carriers dawdled so first Mourinho implored them to hurry, then Fàbregas followed his manager’s lead, and after a long delay Ivanovic replaced the Frenchman on the stroke of half-time.

Seven pages of Derby’s programme, The Ram, had been devoted to a 1968 League Cup meeting between these sides billed as “The Day Brian Clough’s Side Came Of Age” – when Derby claimed a famous 3-1 win. The team Clough was building, captained until 1971 by Dave Mackay, went on to gain promotion from Division Two and eventually won the old First Division title in 1972.

McClaren had not declared this an evening when his Derby side might mature into leading contenders but he did tell The Ram this was the kind of game that might illustrate where the Championship’s third-placed club are in their development.

If Derby could take the game to Chelsea in the second half this would help their promotion push and McClaren’s men signalled this was the plan as the second half got under way. They quickly won a free-kick. Omar Mascarell swung in an inviting delivery and Keogh narrowly failed to find the header. Now, Derby fashioned their best chance.

Will Hughes, the impressive England Under-21 midfielder, drifted into the area and from close range connected with Russell’s pull-back and should have scored but Cech saved.

The miss proved costly, as Filipe Luís was about to score a first for Chelsea. It was a sweetly curving 25-yard free-kick that made Derby’s task even harder.

The finale had most incident but Chelsea, deservedly, closed the tie out.

(Guardian service)

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