Chelsea 3-2 Derby: Maurizio Sarri’s side beat Championship outfit in five-goal thriller on Frank Lampard’s return to reach Carabao Cup last eight
The hosts were ahead inside five minutes after Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori put the ball into his own net
Jack Marriott equalised for Derby in the ninth minute of Carabao Cup fourth-round clash at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea’s lead was restored when Derby defender Richard Keogh scored an own goal in the 21st minute
Martyn Waghorn made it 2-2 just six minutes later from close range, assisted by Blues loanee Mason Mount
Maurizio Sarri’s side headed into the break ahead after Cesc Fabregas scored their third goal before half-time
Derby substitute David Nugent almost found a late equaliser but his right-footed shot struck the post
Drunk on love? How else to explain this bonkers, hand-in-hand singalong that saw an extraordinary match breakout in between the declarations of affection?
The bare fact is that Chelsea won. On they go, into a quarter-final against Bournemouth and a shot at a pot. But they didn’t so much kick Frank Lampard out of the competition as give him a kiss on the cheek and offer a sincere apology.
It was simply that kind of night, weird and wonderful in its way. Weird for the surreal aspect of seeing a visiting manager serenaded so loudly and repeatedly throughout such a close match; wonderful because Chelsea were so poor at times that this was extremely close to being a major upset.
Chelsea won the tie 3-2 after Cesc Fabregas scored in the 41st minute of the Carabao Cup fourth-round clash against Derby
The fact of the matter is that Derby had every right to feel aggrieved and, indeed, Lampard was. Cesc Fabregas’s winner on 41 minutes should not have stood – quite simple. Davide Zappacosta fouled Tom Lawrence in such close proximity to the linesman in the build-up that it should have spotted at first view; that it was not disallowed after consultation with the VAR was especially odd.
So no upset and a sense of injustice. But otherwise, what a stunning effort by Derby. The only unfortunate soul in all of it was poor Fikayo Tomori, who has been exceptional on loan in the midlands this season and was granted dispensation to play against his parent club. The rationale was Chelsea wanted to see him in the heat of a tough situation – what followed was an own goal after five minutes.
But back fought Derby through Jack Marriott four minutes later, and after Richard Keogh then scored Derby’s second own goal, Martyn Waghorn had them level again in the blink of an eye. Cracking drama even before the farce of Fabregas’s winner towards the end of a mad first half.
Derby substitute David Nugent almost found a late equaliser but his right-footed shot struck the post at Stamford Bridge
Lampard cited his side having the better chances and he was right. By the time Chelsea were 2-1 up, they had not had a proper shot on goal. Go figure. Derby, by contrast, saw David Nugent hit the post late on and Mason Mount, who was also given permission to face his employers, twice went close. Had they taken this game, then they would have been good value for it.
Instead, we never had the chance to see how those home fans would have responded to Lampard had Chelsea ever fallen behind. The chances are they would have sung their love for a 13-year servant of their club anyway.
The affection was relentless, starting with the huge banners in the Matthew Harding end and continuing with the chants of ‘super, super Frank’ every 10 minutes or so from start to finish. He would wave, they would wave back, sweet nothings whispered to and fro long into the night.
The only hope is that those in attendance took their eyes off the touchline hero long enough to watch the match, which was never expected to be so close or frantic.
Granted, Maurizio Sarri made eight changes to the side that clattered Burnley for four on Sunday, with only N’Golo Kante, Willian and Alvaro Morata retained and Ruben Loftus-Cheek given a start, but it was hardly a duff side. Weakened, yes, but weak? No.
Lampard, for his part, went as strong as he could, boosted by the inclusion of Mount and Tomori. What different nights they had, even if Tomori does deserve credit for recovering well from such a harrowing start.
The 20-year-old had been attempting to launch clear a cross from Zappacosta but missed the ball with his left, which allowed it to bounce back off his standing right and past Scott Carson. He looked mortified.
Chelsea 3-2 Derby: Frank Lampard after narrow loss
The equaliser was steeped in Chelsea’s errors. Gary Cahill, given only his fourth start of the season, was largely responsible, having first played a poor pass to Fabregas and then slipping in the moment after Tom Huddlestone had bundled the Spaniard out of the challenge.
That left Marriott free to take a pass from Huddlestone, from where finished across goal. Cahill has been unhappy with his lack of action and this game hardly pressed his case, ditto Andreas Christensen.
Derby wasted a wonderful chance to go ahead when Waghorn tripped in the process of shooting when clean through, before a second own goal had them behind again. This time it was Keogh who turned a Zappacosta cross past Carson.
Once more the advantage quickly disappeared. Mount did well with his low cross from the left, but Sarri will have to ask questions of Emerson’s marking, with Waghorn left largely unattended to attack the back post and finish.
Fabregas had Chelsea ahead four minutes before the break, and for all the controversy of its legality, there was a hint of Lampard about the manner he raced on to the loose ball before driving it in. Appropriate in a weird sort of way.
Chelsea 3-2 Derby: Gianfranco Zola after close victory