Chelsea reach League Cup semis, Saints crash

2014-12-17 08:40

Premier League leaders Chelsea beat second-tier Derby County 3-1 to reach the League Cup semi-finals last night, but at the cost of injuries to Kurt Zouma and Didier Drogba.

Eden Hazard and Filipe Luís, with his first goal for the club, put Chelsea in control on a rain-soaked night at the iPro Stadium, before Craig Bryson replied for Derby in the 71st minute.

But the hosts’ hopes of a comeback were extinguished when centre-back Jake Buxton was sent off for impeding substitute Loïc Rémy and André Schürrle made the game safe with eight minutes to play.

Rémy was only on the pitch because Drogba had been forced off by an ankle injury earlier in the second half, while Zouma was stretchered off in first-half injury time after colliding with goalkeeper Petr Cech.

José Mourinho won the League Cup twice in his first stint as Chelsea manager and he named a strong side against Championship high-fliers Derby, with Hazard, John Terry, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fàbregas all in the team.

The visitors made the breakthrough in the 23rd minute after Hazard blocked an attempted pass from Derby captain Richard Keogh on the edge of the hosts’ penalty area.

Fàbregas steered the ball back into Hazard’s path and the Belgian winger drifted infield before drilling a low shot into the bottom-left corner.

After Cech had saved well from Derby midfielder Will Hughes, Luís doubled Chelsea’s lead in the 56th minute by arcing a fine free-kick over the wall and into the net from 25 yards.

Fate appeared to be conspiring against Chelsea after Drogba hobbled off and Bryson swept home Johnny Russell’s lay-off from outside the box to give Steve McClaren’s side hope.

But after Buxton had been contentiously dismissed for wrestling with Rémy as the Frenchman bore down on goal, Schürrle completed the scoring by following in after Remy’s shot was parried by Lee Grant.

There was a shock in the evening’s other quarterfinal as misfiring Premier League side Southampton crashed out after losing 1-0 to third-tier Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

After a promising start to the season, Southampton have lost their last four league games and their poor form continued as Marc McNulty’s 63rd-minute goal sent Nigel Clough’s side into the last four.

McNulty pounced to score when Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster fumbled Bob Harris’ free kick and the visitors finished with 10 men after Florin Gardos was sent off for fouling McNulty.

It is the second season in succession that United have reached the last four of a major tournament, following their run to the FA Cup semifinals last season.

Beleaguered Liverpool face a tricky assignment at Championship leaders Bournemouth on Wednesday, while Tottenham Hotspur host Newcastle United in the only all-Premier League tie of the round.

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