Down to the last four

Chelsea have enjoyed plenty of success through the years in the League Cup with this season’s semi-final against Arsenal marking our 13th appearance at this stage of the competition.

Unique in now being the only round of an English cup tournament that is settled over two legs, the semi-finals of the competition now known as the Carabao Cup has brought both joy and disappointment to the Blues in the past with seven ties ending in success and five in elimination.

Our first appearance in the last four was in the fifth edition in 1964/65 when a couple of Scottish players made their mark for Tommy Docherty’s side in our clash against Aston Villa.

At the age of 18, John Boyle made his debut for the Blues in the first leg at a snowy Villa Park. He celebrated the occasion by firing home a late winner from 25 yards, after a brace from Villa striker Tony Hateley had cancelled out first-half goals by Bobby Tambling and Barry Bridge in our 3-2 victory.

Hateley, who would join the Blues the following year, levelled the score in the 30th minute of the return game at Stamford Bridge but Boyle’s compatriot George Graham (pictured below) struck to secure a 4-3 aggregate and a spot in the final against Leicester City which we won 3-2 on aggregate.

Our next semi-final against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in 1971/72, was a cracker. A John Hollins penalty gave us a 3-2 win at the Bridge in the first leg but Spurs looked to have forced extra-time at White Hart Lane when Martin Peters’ spot kick made it 2-1 on the night and 4-4 on aggregate with seven minutes left.

However, in the final minute, Chelsea were awarded a free-kick near the corner flag and Alan Hudson whipped in the ball which went under the boot of defender Cyril Knowles and squirmed past goalkeeper Pat Jennings at his near post to send us through to a Wembley meeting with Stoke City.

The Blues were beaten in our next three semi-finals by Norwich City in 1972/73, Sunderland in 1984/85 and Sheffield Wednesday in 1990/91, and it looked like we might suffer a fourth consecutive disappointment when Ruud Gullit’s side were beaten 2-1 by Arsenal in the first leg in 1997/98.

Gianluca Vialli replaced Gullit two weeks later and in his first match as Chelsea’s player-manager, the resurgent Blues stormed back against the Gunners with fine goals at the Bridge by Mark Hughes, Roberto Di Matteo and Dan Petrescu securing a memorable 5-4 aggregate triumph.

Tottenham eliminated us in 2001/02 but we were victorious on our next three appearances in the last four.

In 2004/05, we were held 0-0 at the Bridge by Manchester United in the first leg but won 2-1 at Old Trafford thanks to Damien Duff, whose late curling free-kick from the right flank eluded everyone in the box as it bounced past Tim Howard.

League Two side Wycombe Wanderers held us to a 1-1 draw in the first leg two year later but a pair of goals each by Andriy Shevchenko and Frank Lampard back at the Bridge ensured we went through 5-1 on aggregate.

Everton would give us a stern test the following year but Joleon Lescott’s last-minute own goal gave us a 2-1 edge in west London and Joe Cole scored the only goal in the second leg at Goodison Park to send us into the final for the third time in four seasons.

Our run in 2012/13 ended in disappointment after a 2-0 aggregate loss to Swansea City but we made amends two years later against Liverpool.

Eden Hazard’s penalty in a 1-1 draw at Anfield meant we only needed a goalless draw in the return game to advance but Branislav Ivanovic made sure of victory when he headed in Willian’s free-kick in extra-time to set up our seventh trip to the final, which we won 2-0 against Tottenham.

Chelsea’s League Cup semi-finals

Season Opponents 1st leg 2nd leg Aggregate


Aston Villa

3-2 (A)

1-1 (H)




3-2 (H)

2-2 (A)




0-2 (H)

0-1 (A)




0-2 (A)

2-3 (H)



Sheffield Wed

0-2 (H)

1-3 (A)




1-2 (A)

3-1 (H)




2-1 (H)

1-5 (A)



Man United

0-0 (H)

2-1 (A)




1-1 (A)

4-0 (H)




2-1 (H)

1-0 (A)




0-2 (H)

0-0 (A)




1-1 (A)

1-0 (H)