The Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti saw his second string team beaten on penalties by Blackburn last night, and was not too disappointed considering that they had to play the last 20 minutes with ten men.
A highly experimental side, containing just three players that had faced Arsenal at the weekend, were 1-0 down to a Kalinic goal at half-time, and Ancelotti changed it again in the second half when he brought on Drogba, Kakuta and Bruma after the break.
A galvanised Chelsea immediately bounced back with two goals through Drogba and Kalou, but the game was levelled again with half an hour to go from an Emerton cross, which may or may not have been touched by Kalinic on its way into the net.
Ten minutes later Chelsea were reduced to ten men as Kalou went off with a groin injury, and it remained level until the end of normal time.
Right at the beginning of extra time Blackburn took the lead again through a penalty from Benni McCarthy, and the game looked to be in Blackburns hands until Ferreira popped one in at the back post with seconds remaining of the 120 minutes played, forcing penalties.
Michael Ballack stepped up to take the first but shot it straight at Robinson, and it again looked like Chelsea were going out until Kalinic missed his chance to make it 4-2 and the Blues were back in with a chance. Chelsea fifth and final penalty was taken by young Kakuta, and he seemed to try and copy Drogba’s tidy little chip into the middle of the goal, but this time Robinson stood his ground and it sailed into his hands to put Blackburn in the semi-finals.
“This is good for our season,” said Ancelotti after the game. “I wanted to see our young players.
“I think they did a good job. It was a good opportunity to gain experience.”
“We are disappointed but I think that we did a very good job with 10 versus 11 – we played with spirit, with heart,” added Ancelotti.
“I took a risk with three players coming on at half-time. It was a new line-up for us and sometimes it doesn’t work, but in second half it was better.
“It was impossible for Kalou to come back on – he was injured. We need to assess him on Thursday but we hope he will recover quickly.”
Well that is one trophy crossed off the list, but it also means that the players will have two more rest days than Man Utd in the coming weeks!
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