Our FA Cup campaign ends at the quarter-final stage on an evening when all the crucial incidents occurred late in the game.
It had been a hugely competitive game up until the final quarter-of-an-hour but one of few chances. Diego Costa had come the closest to scoring but then two well-taken goals from our former striker Romelu Lukaku decided the tie.
Shortly after the second of those strikes, Diego Costa was sent off for the first time in his Chelsea career when he collected a second booking, matched by Everton’s Gareth Barry three minutes later when the midfielder was also dismissed.
John Terry came off the bench late on to make his 700th appearance for Chelsea.
There was mixed news before the game began when it came to injuries and Guus Hiddink’s team selection. Diego Costa was passed fit to start but Eden Hazard was not involved due to a minor problem with a tendon in his hip area. Terry was back after a month out and was named among the subs.
In the absence of Hazard, our manager opted to move Cesc Fabregas into the attacking midfield trio rather than alternatives such as Oscar or Bertrand Traore, and that meant there was a return to the line-up for Nemanja Matic alongside John Mikel Obi. The defence was unchanged so Kenedy continued at left-back.
Everton made a change on that side of their defence with Leighton Baines coming in and Seamus Coleman returning to right-back with John Stones dropped to the bench. Barry and Tom Cleverley were introduced to their midfield.
There was an early save to make for Thibaut Courtois from the restored Cleverley but it was straight forward enough.
Kenedy, under pressure, was soon firing over at other end from inside the Toffees’ penalty area.
It was a lively start to the game, matched by a big cup-tie atmosphere inside Goodison Park. There were 6,000 Chelsea fans, who had all been left a special scarf on their seats, and they were making themselves heard amongst a vocal home support.
In the 10th minute the temperature was raised even further by two challenges in the middle of the park involving Diego Costa, the first a free-kick to our striker, the second earning him a booking for a collision with Barry.
Pedro needed treatment soon after following a robust tackle when his first touch had let the ball get away as the frenetic opening continued.
Kenedy was spoken to midway through the half after a couple of fouls as Michael Oliver’s whistle continued to be busy. What we had not seen in the game yet was any sustained, coherent attacking by either side.
Coleman floated over a cross towards the far post for the home side but Romelu Lukaku couldn’t muster the leap needed to head it anywhere near the target.
Chelsea’s most promising moment for some time came when Fabregas slipped a ball through to the right side of the Everton area, but Pedro could not make it into anything before the ball went out.
With three minutes to go until the interval, Phil Jagielka was booked for following through with his knee into Fabregas. The free-kick was central, about 30 yards out and struck well by Willian but Joel Robles was able to tip it over the bar. Everton retaliated with a Cleverley shot that Courtois dived to grab with both hands.
So scoreless at half-time and quite a contrast to the incredibly open league game here last season when we triumphed 6-3. Diego Costa was among the goals that day and such was his commitment to the cause on his return today that his white kit resembled the ‘before’ in a washing powder advert as he went down the tunnel for the interval team talk.
Ramino Funes Mori headed an Everton corner not very far over near the start of the second half and the home side continued to put pressure on when Ross Barkley slipped a tackle and laid the ball on for Lukaku to charge, but the Belgian was excellently tackled by Gary Cahill, especially considering the England man was still feeling the effects of a kick on the knee a minute earlier.
On 57 minutes Chelsea were a whisker away from taking the lead. The familiar supply line of Fabregas to Diego Costa connected and our centre-forward evaded Funes Mori and keeper Robles. From what looked an impossible angle he so nearly slotted the ball home, but agonisingly not quite.
Fabregas was the second Chelsea player booked, for a foul on Barry with just over an hour played.
Diego Costa continued to knock on the door that was the Everton defence while Roberto Martinez’s side were looking more of a counter-attacking threat than at any time in the game. But a 0-0 draw and a re-match at Stamford Bridge still looked the most likely outcome. Sadly that proved not to be the case.
Initially, Ivanovic with his shadowing run and Courtois with his speed out his goal both did well to head off a Lukaku charge into our box shortly before the first substitution of the match. Oscar came on for Willian.
Martinez was about to respond by bringing on Gerard Deulofeu but before he could make that switch, his team took the lead.
In the end it was an impressive solo effort rather than team play that made the breakthrough. Lukaku took possession wide on the left and held off Azpilicueta before continuing his run into the area. He moved inside Cahill and finished with a low shot across Courtois.
Before there was any chance to respond Everton were 2-0 up, this time Lukaku finding the net from a position on the right of our box having been slipped in by Barry and given the benefit of the offside call.
What was already a huge uphill task became even steeper when Diego Costa earned a second yellow card for putting his head into Barry, but that numerical disadvantage was negated soon after when Barry hacked out at Fabregas and was also shown a second yellow.
As Hiddink looked to rebalance the side having already brought Loic Remy on, he introduced Terry, although it would not have been the way our skipper would have chosen to reach such an impressive landmark of appearances for the club.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovc (c), Kenedy (Terry 85); Mikel, Matic (Remy 82); Willian (Oscar 73), Fabregas, Pedro; Diego Costa.
Unused subs Begovic, Baba, Loftus-Cheek, Traore,
Sent off Diego Costa 84
Booked Diego Costa 11, Fabregas 62.
Everton (4-2-3-1): Robles; Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Lennon (Stones 88), Barkley (Besic 90+2), Cleverley; Lukaku (Niasse 90+4).
Unused subs Howard, Osman, Deulofeu. Kone.
Scorer Lukaku 78, 82
Sent off Barry 87
Booked Jagielka 42
Referee Michael Oliver
Crowd 37, 283