Football

Chelsea scale past resilient Southampton to reach EFL quarter-final

Chelsea advanced to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals after a thrilling penalty shootout victory over a tenacious Southampton side on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea advanced to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals after a thrilling penalty shootout victory over a tenacious Southampton side on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge.

After a normal time, the two teams were tied, but in the shootout, a Will Smallbone miss and a Reece James conversion proved the difference.

Chelsea dominated the early phases of the game, almost taking the lead through Saul Niguez in the sixth minute. From a corner kick, the midfielder soared highest to push Fraser Forster into a nice save.

Kai Havertz then came close to opening the score for the home side, curling a beautiful effort just wide of the post from the outside of the penalty area before blasting a shot straight at Forster from a tight angle 10 minutes later.

Southampton, however, began to come into the game with the hosts failing to convert these chances, pinning Chelsea’s back five in their own penalty area for a period of time. When Stuart Armstrong launched a shot from the right side of the penalty box, the Saints were almost rewarded for their outstanding play. After deflecting off of Malang Sarr, though, the shot was well gathered by Kepa.

Havertz beautifully headed the ball into the bottom right corner off an Hakim Ziyech corner just before halftime, giving the Blues an undeserved lead into the interval.

Southampton deservedly pulled level right after half-time with Che Adams. After Kepa let a Kyle Walker-Peters shot to sneak under him, the Scotland international was able to nudge the ball home from two yards.

That goal ignited the game into life, with Havertz almost taking a brace only to be denied by the outstanding Forster’s feet, and Southampton almost netting their second of the night via Adam Armstrong, but for Kepa’s arms.

Chelsea missed a few more chances with 15 minutes remaining, with Saul sliding a shot from the edge of the box wide of the post before seeing a curling shot saved by Southampton’s goalkeeper 30 seconds later.

The visitors had the final chance of the game, with both Southampton centre-backs having headers saved by Kepa, ensuring the game would be settled by penalty kicks.

Before Theo Walcott and Mason Mount’s penalties were saved, both teams scored their opening penalties of the shootout. After goals from Callum Hudson-Odoi and Shane Long, Smallbone was under pressure to score his penalty in his first game back after a major knee injury.

Reece James stepped up to score the game-winning goal after the young midfielder lofted his shot over the bar.

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