Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool: Ivanovic ensures Blues trip to Cup final after testy second leg
There were chances a-plenty and just as much controversy in Liverpool’s second leg against Chelsea, as referee Michael Oliver had his hands full at Stamford Bridge.
When all was said and done, Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho showed a rare bout of exuberant emotion after Branislav Ivanovic’s header in extra time proved insurance for Chelsea. The Blues won 1-0 on the match and 2-1 on aggregate to move on the League Cup final versus Wednesday’s winner of Spurs and Sheffield United.
The first half saw two legitimate shouts for Chelsea penalty kicks, as an early Lucas handball and later Martin Skrtel foul on Diego Costa were not deemed worthy of spot kicks. In the case of Skrtel, his mistimed tackle stopped Costa from a cross near the end line.
Liverpool had far more clear-cut chances in the first half but couldn’t convert, while Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic couldn’t score on decent chances from the edge of the 18. And Thibaut Courtois made a stunning leg save on Philippe Coutinho to keep things scoreless.
That was prelude to more, as Costa used his trailing leg to stamp on Skrtel’s foot in the 55th minute, and a dust-up ensued once the Liverpool defender replied by whipping his legs toward the Chelsea striker.
The second half saw Simon Mignolet shine between the sticks for Liverpool. He made a “whaaat?!?” save on a deflected Oscar shot and later tackled the ball away from a wide-open Costa.
Could Mario Balotelli make the difference? He came on for Lazar Markovic in the 70th minute, as Liverpool had a minimum of 20 minutes and a max of 50 to find a road goal winner.
And so we went to extra time, with Chelsea knowing 30 minutes of defending would get it to the garage. But the Blues would not stay back, as Willian’s free kick found a leaping Ivanovic to make it 2-1 on aggregate.