Chelsea held off a late Everton rally on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge to emerge with a 2-1 victory in the Carabao Cup. A first-half goal from Antonio Rudiger and a second-half goal in stoppage time from Willian gave the hosts enough breathing room despite a late goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and the Blues will be in tomorrow’s draw for the next round of the League Cup.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte decided to rest a number of his regulars, making nine changes to the side that beat Watford on Saturday, including giving Danny Drinkwater his debut and a start for 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu.
Everton manager David Unsworth made his first team selection since taking over from Ronald Koeman and changing the formation to a back four with Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka and adding a bit of pace to the squad with Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon in support of Wayne Rooney.
But after 45 minutes, it didn’t look like this would be a cup tie to remember. Neither side created any real chances from open play, perhaps the result of both sides making a number of changes.
But it was a Chelsea set piece that opened the scoring. A cross from Charly Musonda after a short corner found Antonio Rudiger at the back post, and Rudiger’s looping header nestled under the crossbar for his first goal since joining Chelsea in the summer.
Chelsea controlled the play for much of the first half, but Unsworth’s half-time team talk stirred something inside the visitors, as Everton came out in the second half with renewed purpose.
First, it was Wayne Rooney who could have equalised when Jonjo Kenny’s cross was headed on by Mirallas, but Rooney could only volley his shot into the torso of Willy Caballero.
Just a minute later, Caballero’s poor pass from the back found Aaron Lennon, but Caballero made up for his error by saving Lennon’s shot.
Waves of attacks from Everton kept coming at the Chelsea defence, and Lennon was the next to have a crack at goal when Mirallas’ curling cross found Lennon in the centre of the goal, only for Kenedy to deflect the cross over the bar.
Caballero was called into action again when Leighton Baines’ corner found Jagielka’s near post run, and Caballero had to get two arms to deflect Jagielka’s flicked header away from goal.
Chelsea’s defence again looked shaky, and the entire midfield and defence failed to deal with a cross from Lennon that rolled across the top of the 18-yard box before Mirallas was again denied by Caballero.
Chelsea nearly snatched a second goal against the run of play off an Everton mistake. Rooney’s under-hit back pass for Jordan Pickford was snatched up by Michy Batshuayi who flicked the ball past Pickford but couldn’t control the ball under pressure from Jagielka.
Substitute Ademola Lookman’s curling effort scraped the top of the crossbar before Willian put the game out of reach. A quick one-two between Cesc Fabregas and Willian freed the Brazilian who bent his shot around the defenders and off the far post for Chelsea’s second.
Calvert-Lewin gave Everton a goal they deserved when he poked home from close range after Oumar Niasse’s shot was deflected into his path by Rudiger, but it was too little too late for the Toffees.