League Cup: 1998

For the second year in succession the Blues were at Wembley and for the second year in succession Middlesbrough were the opponents.

The only differences were the fact that this was the League Cup final and Chelsea were now under the stewardship of Gianluca Vialli, who had succeeded Ruud Gullit in the February of this year.

It was another 2-0 victory that led to Vialli lifting the trophy aloft at the final whistle (skipper Dennis Wise allowing the player-manager who had not picked himself to perform the honours), but on this occasion extra-time was required as a Middlesbrough side containing the likes of Paul Merson, Andy Townsend and Paul Gascoigne made a real fight of it.

Frank Sinclair opened the scoring, starting the move which culminated in him heading home Wise's cross, before Roberto Di Matteo once again shattered the dreams of the Teessiders, putting the game out of reach when he tapped home Gianfranco Zola's low corner.

Kevin Hitchcock was the hero of the third round, saving two penalties in the shootout against Blackburn following a 1-1 draw, setting up a fourth-round clash at home to Southampton which we won 2-1.

Goals from Tore Andre Flo and Graeme Le Saux saw us race into a 2-0 lead away at Ipswich in the quarter-finals but after surrendering the advantage it was once again down to penalties to decide who would meet Arsenal in a two-legged semi-final.

This time Ed de Goey proved the difference, saving kicks from both James Scowcroft and Mauricio Tarrico as we ran out 4-1 winners.

The first-leg of the semi-final at Highbury was a poor performance and we were fortunate to only lose 2-1. Stephen Hughes scored twice for the Gunners, but a late Mark Hughes header gave us hope for the return at Stamford Bridge.

The build-up to the second-leg was dominated by the departure of Gullit. Vialli was to replace the Dutchman at the helm and this was to be his first game in charge.

The Italian's reign got off to a flyer when Hughes gave us the lead and levelled the tie on aggregate midway through the first half. Di Matteo then scored with an absolute piledriver that flew into the top corner, before Dan Petrescu made it 3-0 on the night with a neat finish.

Dennis Bergkamp scored a late penalty for Arsenal to ensure a nervy finish but as the final whistle sounded there were joyous celebrations inside the ground.

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