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Blackburn 3-3 Chelsea


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logo1.jpgWed 2 Dec 09, Carling Cup Quarter-Final, Ewood Park, Blackburn

Two penalty saves from Paul Robinson ensured Blackburn progressed to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup at Chelsea's expense.

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti made a host of changes to the side that demolished Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium, with the Blues boss clearly prioritising Saturday's crunch clash with Mark Hughes' Manchester City.

Blackburn took an early lead through Croatian Nikola Kalinic to give them a half-time lead, but a goal from substitute Didier Drogba, and a second through Salomon Kalou put the visitors in a commanding position. Brett Emerton's cross inexplicably deceived Hilario to force extra-time and Benedict McCarthy’s penalty looked to have won the game for Rovers, only for Paul Robinson to flap at a cross; allowing Paulo Ferreira to score.

The victory will be sweet revenge for Rovers who suffered a 5-0 drubbing at Stamford Bridge in November, and a welcome tonic for manager Sam Allardyce as he recovers from heart surgery.

Ferreira and Branislav Ivanovic formed an unorthodox centre back pairing. Yuri Zhirkov replaced the injured Ashley Cole, whilst a change in formation saw wingers Florent Malouda and Joe Cole playing alongside Kalou. In-form Didier Drogba was on the bench along with youth team star Gael Kakuta.

The home side took the lead through a well-worked goal; Morten Gamst Pedersen combined with Pascal Chimbonda, who teed up Kalinic who fired beyond Hilario from close range. It was a goal Blackburn deserved for a positive start to the match, but Chelsea came back into the contest with a number of good opportunities.

The best of which was headed wide by Kalou, who couldn't convert an inviting cross from Belletti. Zhirkov and Malouda disappointingly shot straight at goalkeeper Paul Robinson, and Joe Cole was disappointingly quiet.

In response, Ancelotti chose to make a tripe substitution; Kakuta and Drogba replaced Cole and the ineffective Deco, as the team resorted to their typical 4-4-2 formation. Young defender Jeffrey Bruma also joined the fray in place of Belletti.

And the changes had an immediate effect as Chelsea turned the game on its head. Drogba powered home a stunning header and then Kalou latched on to a through-ball from Zhirkov before slotting beyond the goalkeeper. Kalou should have added a third to Chelsea's tally but he was soon forced to retire from the action after tearing his thigh - the Blues were down to just ten men.

Blackburn levelled when Emerton's cross evaded Hilario who misjudged the flight of the ball as Kalinic rose to meet it, and Rovers continued to pile the pressure on their opponents, but the Chelsea goalkeeper saved well from Kalinic.

Junior Hoilett, who had missed two decent chances in normal time, was then fouled by Zhirkov in the area as the game entered extra time; McCarthy sent Hilario the wrong way but Chelsea equalised through Ferreira when he poked home from a tight angle after Malouda's free kick was missed by Robinson.

But the Blackburn goalkeeper made amends with a stunning penalty save from Michael Ballack. Chelsea converted their next three spot-kicks and Hilario denied Kalinic, but Robinson saved Gael Kakuta's powered effort to send Blackburn through, and deservedly so.


Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Robinson; Salgado, Samba, Nelsen ©, Chimbonda; Emerton, Nzonzi (Van Heerden 91), McCarthy, Pedersen (Grella 61); Kalinic, Roberts (Hoilett 69).

Chelsea (4-3-3): Hilario; Belletti (Bruma 46), Ferreira, Ivanovic, Zhirkov; Mikel, Ballack, Malouda; Deco (Drogba 46), J Cole (Kakuta 46); Kalou

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Blackburn's number 10 - Benedict McCarthy


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