When Romelu Lukaku fired his second goal of the game under Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea fans alike were hit with the sudden realisation that their season was effectively over. After exiting the Champions League in midweek, the Capital One Cup in the 4th round and sitting in mid table in the League, the Blues had blown their last chance of silverware with a truly dreadful performance, losing 2-0 to their counterparts from Merseyside. Many Chelsea fans will ask if this was what they got rid of their most successful manager Jose Mourinho for, and they have every right to query this.
Chelsea made one change from the team that was defeated by PSG in midweek, with the injured Eden Hazard unsurprisingly failing to fully recover from a hip injury, Nemanja Matic came in to partner John Obi Mikel, with Cesc Fabregas allowed to push further forward. Diego Costa was passed fit after coming off against PSG last Wednesday. Everton made a few changes, in defence in came Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman, whilst in midfield Tom Cleverley and Gareth Barry came in. It was no surprise to see Diego Costa in the middle of things in an otherwise uneventful first half, as after only 10 minutes both he and Gareth Barry had clashed. Seeming to raise an elbow, Costa was put into the book, foreshadowing what was to come later in the match involving both players. The game was stopped on several occasions, with Kenedy being spoken to on more than one occasion by Michael Oliver. The game was being played very much in the middle third of the pitch, with neither team wanting to make a mistake which would put them behind in the tie. The only real chance of the first half fell to the Blues. After Fabregas was fouled by a very late Jagielka, Willian took the resulting freekick and tested Joel Robles, who pushed the effort over the bar, enabling Everton to go into the break level. It was evident Chelsea were still deflated from their defeat by PSG on Wednesday, and with only having two days to recover compared to Everton’s seven, this was to no doubt take it’s toll on the Blues as they entered the latter stages of the game.
Many neutrals were hoping that this game would follow a similar path to the 3-3 draw that was played out between the teams several weeks ago, with all 6 goals being scored in the second half on that occasion. And this was to be the case. Immediately the chances started to flow, as Ramiro Funes Mori headed over from a corner before a last ditch Gary Cahill tackle denied Romelu Lukaku. But it was Chelsea who were presented with the best chance of the game on 57 minutes. As Cesc Fabregas picked up the ball in acres of space, he threaded a ball through to Costa who, after rounding Robles, was unlucky to see his effort dribble along the goal line and wide from the most acute of angles. This miss was one of Chelsea’s only chances and was to prove costly for the Blues. With the game looking like it had a replay written all over it, it was going to take something special to break the deadlock in this game. And this came from ex-Chelsea man Romelu Lukaku. After beating both Ivanovic and Azpilicueta, Lukaku ghosted past Mikel before mesmerising Gary Cahill who seemed to forget which day of the week it was, allowing him to gain a yard of space and fire the ball into Courtois’ far corner. And one became two five minutes later. After the Chelsea defence fell asleep, something they have become accustomed to this season, Ross Barkely played in Lukaku, before he nutmegged his Belgian compatriot Courtois with a fierce drive to book his side’s place at Wembley. There was still time for troublemaker Diego Costa to get sent off after an altercation with Gareth Barry. And the Everton man soon saw red himself for a second yellow after a late challenge on Fabregas. A truly dismal week for the Blues was concluded with Michael Oliver’s final whistle, with the players saving one of their worst performances so far under Hiddink for one of the most important and pivotal games remaining within the Blues’ season. The only positive that can be taken from Chelsea’s season being over mid March is that this will surely mean a spending spree and an overhaul of a squad that has shown this season that they are not up to the challenge or standards required at Chelsea Football Club.
‘The players like to win. Most of them are used to winning. It has been difficult to try and achieve a Champions League place and maintain two roads to have success, which were the FA Cup and the Champions League. They are gone now. That’s a pity.” He added, “When you play for a big club you must play with responsibility and pride when the season is as it is now. We will stipulate that. We have to go on with pride for the club. We have the obligation to do so and we will emphasise that to the players.”
Total Shots: 8 – 5
Shots On Target: 4 – 1
Shots Off Target: 4 – 2
Blocked: 0 – 2
Possession: 43% – 57%
Everton: Joel, Coleman, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Baines, Barry, Cleverley, McCarthy, Lennon (Stones, 88), Barkely (Besic, 90), Lukaku (Niasse, 90)
Unused Subs: Howard, Osman, Deulofeu, Kone
Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilcueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Kenedy (Terry, 85), Matic (Remy, 82), Mikel, Willian (Oscar, 73), Fabregas, Pedro, Costa
Unused Subs: Begovic, Baba, Loftus-Cheek, Traore