Leeds United 1-5 Chelsea

19th May 2012 was the most exciting night in Chelsea history. Seven months on, the side put out on display here was barely recognisable from the side that clinched the European crown.

Torrid October and November months spelled the end of yet another manager, and though their fortunes are slowly rebuilding, a Capital One Cup victory hardly lives up to the great expectations once put in place after that Munich win.

Chelsea have been knocked out of four competitions already this season, but could still win four trophies, more than any other side in England.

To do that, Chelsea had to prevail against their arch nemesis Leeds United. The Blues have never lost to Leeds in cup competition, managing seven wins and four draws, and though there were initial scares, a League Cup semi-final spot was eventually booked in style.

Due to police concerns over potential crowd trouble, Chelsea were only allocated 3,000 tickets rather than the usual 5,000, but their fans made their voices heard after a shambolic first half.

For such a rivalry, and having not met each other since a 1-1 draw in the Premier League nine years ago, you would have expected fireworks from the off.

But not quite. Clearly with tired legs and still suffering from jet-lag after their Japan exploits, it was up to Leeds to bring the game to Chelsea.

Attempting to negate any negative physical consequences from flying half-way around the world, fringe players were preferred. Hazard was rested, with Marko Marin making his first Chelsea start. Ryan Bertrand started on the eve of Ashley Cole’s 32nd birthday, as too did Cesar Azpilicueta, with birthday boy Gary Cahill suspended.

Oscar, who lost out to Victor Moses in the Club World Cup final starting eleven, made his way back into the squad, alongside Frank Lampard in the base of midfield, with Ramires too banned.

And it was the Brazilian who nearly got this going. Victor Moses was put through by the Brazilian, and his left-foot shot forced a low save from Jamie Ashdown.

The early chance proved to be a one-off, with the horrid playing conditions getting the better of the football. A drenched pitch meant tackles were flying all over the place, and though Leeds is commonly associated with being dirty, it was the Blues who showed show recklessness in their challenges.

Lampard was warned one too many times and earned a booking in Andre Marriner’s book, before his fellow anchorman Oscar was also warned. The ensuing Leeds’ free-kicks had nothing to show from them.

But then it was back to Chelsea. Neat play allowed Mata a chance to shoot, and having weaved himself in and out of the defenders, his eventual shot was cleared away by a head.

But Leeds made Chelsea pay for lackadaisical play. David Luiz was caught far too high up the pitch, and when his lofted ball was intercepted, a fast counter-attack resulted in a Becchio tap-in.

Chelsea did have two chances to equalise, one before the half-time whistle, and one straight after. Both resulted in the net rippling, but whilst the first was offside, the second did get Chelsea back in it.

Victor Moses muscled his way past the Leeds back-line and slotted home, but Fernando Torres’ flick-on header was from an offside position.

It did not matter a minute after the restart, when Torres and Moses were again involved, combining well for Mata to side-foot home. The ball managed to just squirm through Ashdown’s body.

The early equaliser seemed to settle Chelsea’s nerves, with Leeds yet to fully awake from the half-time break.

Cesar Azpilicueta floated a ball to Fernando Torres as Chelsea searched for their second, and though the ball found his compatriot, the header was straight at the goalkeeper, who saved comfortably.

Marko Marin’s time was to come to an end just short of the hour mark, as Eden Hazard entered the fray, before two quickfire Chelsea goals killed off any comeback hopes.

From a Frank Lampard corner, Branislav Ivanovic’s bullet header put Chelsea in front, and just two minutes later, Victor Moses doubled the European Champions’ lead, cutting inside from the left before driving a low, long-range effort into the corner of the net.

Another two back-to-back finishes inside the last ten minutes of the match rubbed salt upon salt onto the wound.

First, Eden Hazard was put through by a delicious David Luiz ball. The Belgian coolly passed the ball into the back of the net, with Ashdown, for all his good work in the evening, horribly exposed.

The Belgian then showed his unselfish nature, by squaring to Fernando Torres three minutes later to make it five to Chelsea, opting to give the Spaniard one, rather than attempt to get a personal brace.

So Chelsea progress to the semi-final stage. The Blues had made the quarter-finals for the third time in four seasons, but lost at this stage in the previous two attempts.

The Blues now face Swansea in the semi-finals, and with Bradford or Aston Villa waiting in the final, should Chelsea get there, it seems Chelsea might, at the fourth time of asking, get their hands on their first silverware of the season.

Match Stats

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