Chelsea advanced to the fifth round of the EFL Cup on Wednesday night with a 3-2 victory over Derby County at Stamford Bridge. Two own goals and a goal from Cesc Fabregas cancelled out goals from Jack Marriott and Martyn Waghorn sending the Blues through to the next round to face Bournemouth.
Frank Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge for the first time since becoming manager of Derby and was given rapturous applause from the home support.
While it seemed the home crowd were in the mood for celebration, Derby clearly weren’t fazed by the occasion, especially having beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford in the last round EFL Cup. With Chelsea allowing Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount to play against their parent club, Lampard had his full team at his disposal.
However, Tomori got things started in a rather unusual fashion, giving Chelsea the lead after just five minutes played. Tomori attempted to clear a cross from Davide Zappacosta but missed the ball completely and had to watch it deflect off his standing leg and into his own net. He could only look around sheepishly at his misfortune.
But if Derby were knocked off their stride, they certainly didn’t look the part. Rather than come to defend and go into a defensive shell, Derby continuously attempted to press Chelsea’s midfield and make it difficult for Chelsea’s defence to play out from the back.
Four minutes after Tomori’s own goal, Derby were back on level terms. Tom Huddlestone intercepted Gary Cahill’s pass for Fabregas in the centre circle. As Huddlestone drove towards the Chelsea penalty area, Cahill slipped, allowing Jack Marriott to have free space down the left-hand side. Marriott glided into the area and powered a shot inside the far post and beyond a diving Willy Caballero to bring Derby back on level terms.
Derby were giving Chelsea as good a challenge as any who have visited Stamford Bridge this season, but own goal seemed to be on Chelsea’s side tonight, and own goal struck again to put Chelsea up once again. Again, it was Zappacosta that found space for a cross down Chelsea’s right, but this time it was Richard Keogh whose shinned clearance would beat Scott Carson in goal.
But Derby still weren’t ready to let this tie go. Mason Mount has been drawing plaudits from those who have watched him at Derby, and for Derby’s second goal, Mount showed Chelsea how well he’s developing. A quick interchange of passes on Derby’s left sent Mount behind the Chelsea defence, and Mount shaped a brilliant low pass across the face of goal that found Waghorn unmarked at the back post to bring Derby back once again.
Derby might even consider themselves unlucky to go behind on the third goal. Zappacosta was certainly in the thick of things in the first half, and his barge into Tom Lawrence was given as a Chelsea throw-in rather than a foul, something that Derby players weren’t particularly happy about.
From the resulting throw-in, Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s cross from the byline took a small deflection off Zappacosta before Fabregas side-footed the ball off the fingertips of Carson.
Derby’s players were incensed that a foul wasn’t given against Zappacosta for running into Lawrence, but nothing was given, and Chelsea had taken the lead for the third time in the match.
Both teams had chances in the second half, but David Nugent had the best chance for Derby’s equaliser just before stoppage time. Nugent made a diagonal run to free himself from the attention of Cahill and was found with a pass from Marriott. Nugent shaped his body to slide his shot inside the far post, but it cannoned back off the post and straight into the arms of Caballero.
Chelsea will be thrilled to be in the fifth round of the EFL Cup, but they were definitely given a scare by Derby on Halloween.