Chelsea are into the Carabao Cup final! Four perfect penalties of ours, allied with two Tottenham misses, sent the Blues through to next month’s Wembley showpiece after the teams couldn’t be separated following an engrossing derby at the Bridge.
Kepa Arrizabalaga denied Lucas Moura and with Eric Dier having already blazed his effort into the Matthew Harding Lower, it was left to David Luiz to make it Chelsea four spot-kicks scored out of four and book our place in our eighth League Cup final.
In the regulation 90 minutes, first-half goals from N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard had put us ahead on aggregate. The first was a low strike that caught Paulo Gazzaniga in the Tottenham goal out; the second was a brilliant move finished off by Hazard.
We thoroughly merited our advantage three-quarters of the way through the tie, but the visitors made it 2-2 overall when Fernando Llorente headed in shortly after the interval.
Both sides had chances to win it before spot-kicks, with Eden Hazard twice going close for us, but in the end it came down to a test of nerve from 12 yards with no extra-time or away goals in the semi-finals this year.
Willian, Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho and David Luiz all kept their cool, while Dier blazed over and Kepa kept out Moura with a full-stretch dive to his right, sparking delirium inside the Bridge.
Maurizio Sarri made three alterations to the side that started at Arsenal. In came Emerson in defence, Ross Barkley in midfield and Olivier Giroud up front. Marcos Alonso, Mateo Kovacic and Willian made way. Hazard reverted to the left wing.
Andreas Christensen had a groin injury and missed out.
Tottenham, without the injured Harry Kane and Dele Alli, and with Son Heung-Min at the Asia Cup, selected Llorente in attack. Harry Winks and Erik Lamela were among the other fresh faces from the first leg.
Sarri had called for a positive reaction from his players after Saturday’s disappointment at the Emirates, and he watched a Chelsea full of verve and vigour in the opening stages tonight. David Luiz set the tone inside 60 seconds with a burst from defence, and then Barkley forced a mistake allowing Jorginho to pick out Pedro running from deep into space. His shot was blocked by Toby Alderweireld.
There was concern on seven minutes when Dier clattered into David Luiz after the ball had gone, causing the Brazilian some discomfort in his knee. Following prolonged treatment, he was okay to continue.
Alderweireld was the next Tottenham aggressor, bringing down his compatriot Hazard. The Belgian was again regularly on the receiving end on tough Tottenham treatment. From the resulting free-kick, Giroud, Barkley and Toni Rudiger all had unsuccessful stabs goalwards.
As the half-hour mark approached, we hadn’t had a great deal of defending to do aside from clearing a couple of Tottenham corners. They then conceded a cheap one when Alderweireld awkwardly tried to deal with a low Hazard cross, and Gazzaniga in the Tottenham goal could only kick behind.
Hazard’s delivery was cleared to Kante, lurking on the edge of the box, and he kept his knee over the ball as he hit it firmly goalwards. It went through two Tottenham players’ legs and then Gazzaniga’s, too, ricocheting up into the net to level the aggregate score.
We went ahead in the tie 10 minutes later, and it stemmed from a lovely move. Barkley played a quick free-kick inside his own half to Hazard, who immediately had the Tottenham rearguard worried. He spread it wide right to Pedro, who slipped in the overlapping Azpilicueta. His first-time delivery was perfect for Hazard, who had continued his run and showed typical class in front of goal, placing it into the bottom left-hand corner.
The Blues, sensing vulnerability in our opponents, kicked on, pressing for a third before the break. When Hazard pinched the ball off Alderwiereld and charged goalwards in time added on, it felt like it might come. The Spurs man lunged at Hazard from behind and was surprisingly adjudged to have won the ball.
We kept our foot on the accelerator when play resumed but were hit by a sucker-punch on 50 minutes. Sub Danny Rose, on for the injured Ben Davies, had time to deliver a cross which Llorente nodded past Kepa. It was Tottenham’s first shot on target, and came after a half-time switch to three at the back.
Immediately Giroud was released and forced a low save from Gazzaniga as we sought to instantly restore our aggregate lead.
Jorginho and Kante were the first names in the book of the evening as the midfield battle intensified, with Sarri’s protests earning him a yellow card, too. Then those two players combined to free Hazard, who had a good sight of goal but was marginally off-target with a fierce drive.
Down the other end, Eriksen’s inch-perfect diagonal cross found Llorente who scuffed wide.
The game was opening up now. Hazard wriggled into the box but couldn’t get an effort away, before Pedro did. That was saved by Gazzaniga. On 70 minutes the goalie launched a kick upfield which Lucas Moura, just on, was able to latch on to. Thankfully he shot into the side-netting.
Sissoko was the first Tottenham man booked - for a late tackle on Jorginho - to loud sarcastic cheers inside the Bridge. Then Hazard controlled and turned in the blink of an eye before thumping a 20-yarder just wide.
With a quarter-of-an-hour to play, Willian replaced Pedro. Could the Brazilian help settle the tie in our favour before the need for penalties?
The answer was no, although his stoppage-time strike needed blocking after Giroud hadn’t connected cleanly with a well-directed Emerson cross. The left-back tonight had impressed, even before skipping past Aurier and sending over a stunning delivery Giroud headed wide with virtually the last touch before penalties.
There, Dier couldn't repeat his effort which helped England beat Colombia last summer, and when Kepa saved Tottenham's next kick, from Moura, David Luiz, a scorer in Munich of course, thumped into the corner to start the celebrations.