A new Blue hero
Far East Stand Fri 19 Jan 2018
You had to feel a bit sorry for Willy Caballero when he conceded another late goal at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. However, Chelsea fans would have forgotten about it by the end of a dramatic night in which the Argentinian produced the crucial moment which sent us marching on in the FA Cup.
Caballero must really be wondering what it must take to keep a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge, after watching Jamal Lewis’s unchallenged header go in off the upright in the final minute of stoppage time to send our FA Cup third against Norwich into extra-time.
That makes it six matches – two with Manchester City and four with the Blues – in which he has failed to keep a shut-out at the Bridge. However, the annoying thing for the 36-year-old is that all four of the goals he has conceded as a Chelsea player have come in the 90th minute or beyond, with little real blame attached to him for not keeping the ball out of the net on each of those occasions.
Against Nottingham Forest in the third round of the Carabao Cup and Everton in the fourth, he was left exposed in stoppage time as the Blues conceded consolation goals in the final moments after being in comfortable leads
And against Bournemouth in the quarter-finals, he could do little to keep out Dan Gosling’s fine late equaliser although he got an immediate reprieve as his team-mates went straight up the other end to grab the winning goal.
All four goals have come in front of the visiting fans in the Shed End, so it may have come as some relief for Caballero to know that the penalty shootout required after our 1-1 stalemate with the Canaries would take place in front of the Chelsea faithful in the Matthew Harding Stand.
The veteran Argentinian did keep out an Oscar penalty at that end of the pitch during Manchester City’s 5-1 FA Cup defeat at the Bridge in February 2016, although he is much better remembered for the three Liverpool spot kicks he saved a week later to give his side a penalty shootout victory in the League Cup final.
He also turned aside penalties by Neymar and Falcao in the Champions League and Riyad Mahrez in the Premier League last season as well as stopping an attempt by Eden Hazard at the Bridge in April which the Belgian managed to tuck away at the second attempt.
So, Caballero arrived at Chelsea with a reputation for keeping out penalties and he didn’t disappoint the home fans as he plunged to his right to keep out Nelson Oliveira’s opening attempt for the visitors.
He wasn’t able to repeat his heroics on Norwich’s subsequent three attempts but it didn’t really matter as Willian, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard clinically put away their opportunities to send us into the fourth round of the FA Cup for the 20th season in a row.
Of course, we haven’t won anything yet and it will take another five victories to bring the world’s oldest football trophy back to the Bridge for the eighth time.
But after a long and tense evening that brought Chelsea fan as much pain as pleasure from watching us concede the late equaliser and then have two players sent off in the extra 30 minutes, it was nice to see us finish on a positive note, thanks to that one moment of genius by Willy Caballero.