Chelsea were given a run for their money after a sub par (at least defensively) performance against a motivated Derby County managed by Chelsea legend Frank Lampard.
Sarri selected a similar side to the one that usually takes to the field in the Europa league matches/league cup. Chelsea began well, pressing forward early on towards the shed end goal. Willian pulled a shot wide from the edge of the box, and shortly after we forced a throw in on the right hand touchline. Zappacosta received it and played a low cross into the box. It cannoned off the standing leg of Chelsea loanee Tomori as he took an air shot at the ball and it went in at the far post. There had been talk amongst some fans before as to whether it was a good idea to let our on loan players play against us. This perhaps changed the mind of a few inside the first ten minutes.
Chelsea searched for a second as Kovacic dragged a shot wide at the near post. Our superiority in terms of possession and chances created would not last long though. Gary Cahill gave the ball away when attempting to play out from the back. The ball was then played in behind him as he slipped over and Jack Marriott guided it into the far bottom corner.
The equaliser led to a period of Derby chances as Chelsea defenders continued to give the ball away. Emerson was the guilty party next, and again the ball was played in behind an out of shape back four, but Waghorn tried to force it onto his left foot and toe punted it at Caballero. Chelsea regained the lead after Zappacosta overlapped from right back to whip a cross into the middle. Yet again it was a Derby player who diverted it past Scott Carson. Richard Keogh with the touch this time. Chelsea were now 2-1 up without having had a shot on target! Chelsea now tried to bring some semblance of control to the match as they kept the ball better, but Derby were well organised with five across the middle of the pitch, albeit playing slightly square and leaving space between the lines of defence and midfield. Chelsea had not at this stage taken advantage of those areas of the pitch and indeed it was Derby who scored next. Again it was a throw in that was the source of the goal. This time it was down Derby’s left level with the penalty area. Zappacosta pushed up on Lawrence who received the ball, he found Mount (another Chelsea loanee) who had got round the back of Kante way to easily. He then played it along the floor to Waghorn who had done likewise on Emerson and we were level again. This was the negative side to letting your own players take to the field against you, as Mason Mount was the creator here.
Chelsea now controlled the ball for the rest of the half, searching for another goal. They began to pick out players who had found space between the lines and were playing some nice one and two touch stuff, always hard to defend against. It was a nice passing move that found Fabregas in space between the lines. He played a great triangle of passes with Willian and Loftus Cheek before finding him self on the end of the return pass and firing past Carson. Chelsea would go in leading at the break.
Chelsea started well in the second half, with more purpose. They looked like they may have been woken up by Sarri at half time. The fast ball movement synonymous with the Italians style of play was more evident in the first 20 minutes of this half with Chelsea having 80 percent of the possession over this period. A few corners wee forced after decent crosses into the box, and from one such corner Morata had a header well saved by Carson.
The last twenty minutes of the match were a different story though, as Chelsea ceded plenty of chances to the visitors. Marriott broke free down the inside right flank and had a shot punched over by Caballero. Sarri surprisingly withdrew Christensen as he was having a better game than Cahill, bringing on Luiz. This didn’t sure things up though. Mount powered a shot wide from the edge of the area. At the other end Chelsea nearly finished as Loftus Cheek crossed for Morata, who couldn’t stretch to get a good enough contact on it. He had a better chance from another corner, as he connected well with a cross from the right, Carson making an even better save to his left this time. Azpilicueta was now on in defence as well, but couldn’t prevent a diagonal ball over the top finding Keogh in the box. Caballero stood up well to save.
Derby thought they could get something now. Mount had a shot saved by Caballero diving low to his right. Marriott got down the same inside right position between Cahill and Emerson again, but Caballero stood firm at his near post.
Derby had thrown on veteran forward David Nugent by now, and he again exposed Cahill in this area. In the 89th minute this was their chance for an equaliser. His shot beat Caballero, but cannoned of the foot of the far post.
A valiant effort by Derby, but Chelsea just had enough to progress despite some poor defending at times. Chelsea will now play another home match in the quarterfinals, where we face Bournemouth.
Chelsea (4-3-3) 3 (Tamori og 5mins), (Keogh og 21 mins) (Fabregas 41 mins)
Cabellero; Zappacosta, (Azpilicueta 79 mins) Christensen, (Luiz 66 mins) Cahill ©, Emerson;
Kante, Kovacic, Fabregas;
Willian, Morata, Loftus-Cheek, (Pedro 69 mins)
Derby County (4-5-1) 2 (Marriott 9mins), (Waghorn 27 mins)
Carson; Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Malone,(Forsyth 82mins);
Waghorn, (Bennett 62 mins), Mount, Huddlestone, Wilson, (Nugent 82mins), Lawrence;