John Terry’s first cup final goal for Chelsea and a Diego Costa strike deflected into the net won the London derby showpiece at Wembley.
The deadlock in what had been a tight encounter with defences on top was broken shortly before half-time when the skipper finished off a set-piece. From then on there only looked likely to be one winner an indeed Jose Mourinho’s men doubled our lead inside the hour when Diego Costa’s drive from out wide took a touch off Kyle Walker on its way in.
Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas then went close but two goals proved to be enough to win the fifth League Cup in Chelsea history, not least due to a collection of fine pieces of defending in the second half which kept the clean sheet intact and Spurs at bay.
Mourinho sprung a surprise by naming all three of John Terry, Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma in his starting 11.
It was the young Frenchman who was asked to step into midfield alongside Ramires in the absence of Nemanja Matic with ahead of them, Willian returning on the right, Eden Hazard on the left and Cesc Fabregas central but mobile behind Diego Costa.
Petr Cech was preferred to Thibaut Courtois in goal.
As expected, the Tottenham line-up bore more resemblance to the one which drew against West Ham last weekend than the one that played in Europe on Thursday. It showed two changes from the London derby match, both in attacking positions with Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli replacing Erik Lamela and Mousa Dembele.
The Blues were back at Wembley for a major cup final for the first time since 2012 when Liverpool were overcome in the FA Cup. It was our 13th appearance since the stadium was rebuilt and reopened. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea won the first FA Cup then too, however in the back of many a Chelsea mind were memories to banish of our meeting with Tottenham here in this competition in 2008 and those of New Year’s Day. By just before 6pm today it was mission accomplished.
In one for the recurring patterns of our season, Hazard was fouled by Andros Townsend within seconds of the start. At the other end soon after, Branislav Ivanovic was sharp to nip in when Willian was caught on the ball, the result again a Chelsea free-kick.
Four minutes in, Fabregas and Diego Costa threaded the ball around inside the Spurs penalty area to Ramires whose shot was blocked at source. Our start was one of the brighter parts of the half and the Blues forced two early corners, both headed wide of the far post by Zouma first, then Ivanovic.
Then on nine minute Spurs had a set-piece of their own and in a dangerous place following a foul by Fabregas. Eriksen took it and took it well, striking the crossbar although Cech might well have saved had it been any lower.
Spurs were putting pressure on the Chelsea goal but we broke for a 13th-minute counter-attack when Azpilicueta sent Diego Costa away down the wing. The striker found Hazard but the Belgian scooped his shot wide.
Hazard’s next contribution ended with him felled illegally by Danny Rose. Now it was Chelsea’s chance to go for goal from a free-kick but Willian hit the top of the wall.
Chelsea on several occasions in the opening 45 minutes sent long passes forward to players out wide, and a good ball from Willian fell to the feet of Hazard inside the area but when he cut in and shot, Spurs had bodies in the right place to block.
Neither side was retaining possession for any lengthy periods with the game punctuated by frequent free-kicks and throw-ins.
Diego Costa, who two minutes earlier had been fouled by Kyle Walker, came back into his own half to receives the ball but instead felt the force of Erik Dier coming through the back of him. With 31 minutes played the game had its first booking.
Counter-attacks were continuing to look Chelsea’s best bet but Willian couldn’t get enough power on a ball to Diego Costa so a promising break fizzled out. Tottenham skied a couple of efforts from distance with Rose having shot harmlessly wide earlier on. The game looked set for 0-0 at the interval with neither side having truly threatened but with two minute to go, the Blues’ set-piece threat produced the opener.
Terry had played an important part in winning the free-kick from which the lead was taken. As Spurs tried to clear their area, our skipper span a first-time ball out to Ivanovic. Chadli had allowed the Blues right-back to run behind him and tugged at his arm, spotted and correctly flagged by the linesman.
Willian delivered the free-kick to the near-post area where it flicked off the head of Rose and fell inside the six-yard box. There were further diversions to the ball’s path in the huddle of players before it came back Terry’s way for a shot, via a touch off Harry Kane which left Hugo Lloris no time to react.
Joy for the captain and joy for the blue half at the other end of the stadium, and an altered complexion to the game for the second half. Indeed inside stoppage time Chelsea could have added a second goal from a corner when Cahill reached Ivanovic’s knock-back but Lloris saved the downward header.
Before the whistle, Dier, already booked, caught Diego Costa who was chasing a ball with a kick just outside the penalty area but escaped punishment.
Tottenham centre-back Jan Vertoghen was a lucky boy to only deflect a Hazard ball across the face of goal rather than into it, before Fabregas tested Lloris with an overhead kick from a long throw as Chelsea restarted the better side.
Very soon there was something to show to for it with Diego Costa finding the net for the first time in a cup match for the Blues.
Willian and Fabregas played passes in the build-up, the midfielder finding his international colleague on the left of the Spurs penalty area. Faced with Walker, Diego Costa shimmed to the outside and shot. The strike was hard and on-target but a deflection off the Tottenham right-back ensured it was unsaveable.
With 56 minutes played we were 2-0 up. The rain was now teeming down in north-west London but nothing was dampening the Chelsea mood.
Hazard, with a shot that dipped and curved towards the target was a whisker away from making it 3-0 not long after, and unmarked Fabregas headed wide when the task of converting Hazard’s cross was made tough by a late deflection off a Spurs defender.
Chelsea were looking strong as our fans sang in memory of a Chelsea cup final great of the past –Peter Osgood who died nine years ago today.
Willian was booked for a trip on Rose, the first Chelsea player cautioned, followed soon after by Cahill for a foul on Kane. The Spurs centre-forward was a marginal figure, with Mourinho’s plan to disrupt the link between the young striker and Eriksen working to a tee.
Spurs were trying to respond to the deficit but with Chelsea briefly down to 10 men with Azpilicueta having a head injury bandaged, Zouma did well to get in the way of one dangerous attack before Pochettino’s men wasted a threatening position by taking a free-kick quickly but badly.
The game was now inside the final 15 minutes and Juan Cuadrodo was on, soon fouled by Nabil Bentaleb who saw yellow. The Colombian was later booked himself.
Diego Costa was beginning to revel in the space he was finding with Spurs having push more men into our half, and he was only a fraction away from getting on the end of a well-judged Ramires pass through the defence.
Tottenham are the team this season most dangerous late in a game however, and there could be no relaxing. Terry did brilliantly to slide-tackle Kane inside the area before he could shoot and there were important interventions from Ivanovic and Cahill too.
In the closing minutes our King of Wembley, Didier Drogba, was introduced, giving an appreciative nod to the man he was replacing, Diego Costa, for a job very well done.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Ramires, Zouma, Fabregas (Oscar 88); Willian (Cuadrado 76), Diego Costa (Drogba 90+3), Hazard.
Unused subs Courtois, Filipe Luis, Ake, Remy.
Scorers Terry 45, Diego Costa 56.
Booked Willian 70, Cahill 72, Caudrado 85.
Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Bentaleb, Mason (Lamela 71); Chadli (Soldado 80), Eriksen Townsend (Dembele 62); Kane.
Unused subs Vorm, Fazio, Davies, Stambouli.
Booked Dier 31, Bentaleb 78.
Referee Anthony Taylor