Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool - Carling Cup

Chelsea won this Carling Cup quarter-final within five minutes around the hour mark. The latest Chelsea deflected goal to break Liverpool hearts was bounced in off Jamie Carraghers leg, and then Peter Crouch showed how long legs can help you fly through the air with an acrobatic albeit dangerous lunge on Mikel. It probably looked more dangerous than it was but he left the referee with no choice and it was a moment of madness that cost his side the game.
Before that Liverpool could justly claim to have shaded the opening hour. They played the better football and carved out the clearer openings. Lucas, Babel and Voronin were all standing out with their neat passing and inter-play.

In the second half Liverpool continued to look dangerous but Chelsea were getting into the game by the minute. Essien went close, with Itandje saving well, while Lampard sent a twenty-yarder into the crowd.

Four minutes before Lampards lucky deflection, Crouch failed to connect properly when Carvalho inadvertently put him one on one with Cech. Shortly after it was all over for Liverpool. Following the Lampard goal Crouch let the red mist descend and lunged needlessly at Mikel, who theatrically rolled around. He needn't have bothered as Crouch's challenge left the referee with no option and he was promptly off.

After that Liverpool had a mountain to climb and in reality Chelsea comfortably saw the game out to seal their place in the Carling Cup semi-final against Everton. Apart from two half chances for Voronin and El Zhar Liverpool predictably struggled to create anything. In the final minutes the show-ponies of Ballack and Shevchenko combined to seal the tie.

Rafael Benitez is certainly a brave man. He played the far weaker team, however upto the hour mark he could justifiably feel vindicated as his Liverpool team shaded the contest with some neat interplay in the last third. Lucas, Voronin, Carragher and Babel were the pick of the visitors but ultimately the game swung on a bit of fortune for Chelsea and a moment of madness from Crouch.


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