Richard Keogh’s nightmare helps Chelsea see off Derby
Keogh and Fikayo Tomori both found their own net in crazy first half at the Bridge
Derby County’s Richard Keogh reacts after scoring an own goal during his team’s loss to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup. Photo: Adrian Dennis/Getty Images
Chelsea 3 Derby County 2
Frank Lampard has enjoyed so many giddy nights in this arena, whether they were spent hoisting the Premier League trophy as a key member of Chelsea’s most imposing ever team or establishing himself as the club’s all-time record goalscorer. Yet, as an opposition manager and even in narrow defeat, he will have purred at the performance delivered by his Derby County team in surroundings so familiar.
The Championship side, conquerors of Manchester United in the previous round, provided a properly stern test of Chelsea’s undefeated team in a thrilling game and were denied parity – and the possibility of another penalty shootout – only when David Nugent’s late shot fizzed beyond Willy Caballero and rebounded back to the goalkeeper off the far post.
Had Lampard’s own charges not been undermined by a self-destructive habit of scoring own goals – there were two here to add to one from Saturday – then they might even have prevailed, so busy was their football. As it was, Chelsea’s much-changed lineup survived to force their way into a quarter-final at a club icon’s expense. It said much that they had greeted the final whistle with no little relief.
Maybe the gloriously frantic nature of this contest, with its barely conceivable subplots and storylines, could have been predicted. When, after all, have Chelsea kicked off a tie with 13 of their own players on the pitch from the start, as well as their most prolific scorer overseeing the opposition from the dugout? The home support bellowed Lampard’s name throughout and saw their team barely muster a shot on target in the opening half, yet still lead, all while the former England midfielder, clad in a gilet with his hands sunk deep into his pockets, watched as his own side scored four times. It was that kind of occasion.
The decision to permit Derby to field the young loanees Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori had apparently not been made as a favour to this club’s favourite son but was geared instead towards speeding the pair’s development. This, Gianfranco Zola had suggested, was to be an education.
That much was painfully true as Tomori, with no opponent close, inadvertently sliced Davide Zappacosta’s cross into his own net early on. This was not how he had envisaged scoring his first Chelsea goal in front of the Shed End.
When Richard Keogh repeated that trick later in the half, Scott Carson had actually conceded three own goals in succession, after Jayden Bogle put through his own net at Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Yet while Derby were obliging, they always carried a potent threat of their own with Mount and Harry Wilson pesky. Jack Marriott slid a fine finish across Willy Caballero and into the far corner to cancel out Tomori’s error, the striker benefiting from Tom Huddlestone’s strength in dispossessing Cesc Fàbregas and Gary Cahill’s untimely slip. To add to the confusion of allegiances, Marriott is a long-standing Chelsea supporter who, he had freely admitted, was living the dream by playing for Lampard at Stamford Bridge. He offered plenty of bite and might even have provided a lead with a cleverly clipped pass which freed Martyn Waghorn, only for the lumbering No 9 to panic in front of goal and stumble as he poked a shot straight at Caballero.
Regardless, the Championship side still summoned the belief to equalise a second time, all neatly pinged passes down the left before the excellent Mount wriggled free to square for Waghorn, ignored by Emerson, to score.
Yet for all their slick approach play, Derby’s defence was constantly on edge, particularly with Ruben Loftus-Cheek at his rampaging best. The visitors were adamant Zappacosta had fouled Scott Malone in the build-up to the hosts’ third, which was eventually dispatched crisply by Fàbregas to fly in off Carson’s left hand as the goalkeeper slumped to his right.
That goal was assessed by the VAR and permitted to stand.
Maurizio Sarri would still have been unimpressed at the lack of control his team had exerted in that frenetic period, though they had more authority thereafter and, certainly, more control of possession. Yet, with Carson denying Cahill at Willian’s corner, Derby still threatened to force parity.
Mount would see a shot deflected just wide, while Caballero palmed up Marriott’s shot with the ball looping up on to the roof of the net.
The goalkeeper would be handily placed to deny Keogh and Mount in what time remained, but it was Nugent, wrestling himself clear of Cahill, who might have provided the equaliser’s Derby’s infectious enthusiasm arguably deserved. – Guardian service