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Chelsea 2 - 1 Everton


BlueLion.

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Chelsea FC 2 - 1 Everton

Wednesday 9 January 2008, 19:45 KO, League Cup, Semi-Final First Leg, Stamford Bridge

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Joleon Lescott scored in his own net with seconds remaining to give 10-man Chelsea an aggregate lead in their Carling Cup semi-final.

The defender headed past goalkeeper Tim Howard in stoppage time under pressure from Shaun Wright-Phillips who had earlier put the home side 1-0 up before John Obi Mikel received his marching orders for a two-footed challenge. Yakubu equalised from close range for Everton after a mistake by goalkeeper Henrique Hilario, but the Portuguese shot stopper made amends with a wonderful save at the feet of Lescott on 90 minutes. However, Wright-Phillips proved the catalyst in Everton's downfall as he pressured Lescott into heading the ball into his own goal from Michael Ballack's intelligent cross.

Everton had hit the post with the two teams locked at 1-1 through McFadden but Chelsea looked the more likely of the two teams to snatch the win, despite having inferior numbers on the pitch. The spirit and 'never-say-die' attitude of the Chelsea players means they head to Goodison Park with an aggregate lead in the Carling Cup semi-final as the Blues look to feature in their third Carling Cup final in four seasons.

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The first half of this match was much more open than many predicted as both sides knew the advantages of a first-leg lead. Chances were plenty at both ends of the field but it was Chelsea who were the sooner to expose gaps in the opposition defence. Their patient build-up play resulted in the break-through with twenty-five minutes played as Malouda played in Wright-Phillips. Receiving the ball from the impressive Wayne Bridge, the Frenchman split the Everton defence in two before the England winger turned and curled in a beautiful shot past former Manchester United goalkeeper Tim Howard.

They could have extended their lead further when Joe Cole burst through into the box after Jagielka had fouled him. His shot was smothered by the approaching Howard but referee Peter Walton decided to bring play back after offering the advantage to Chelsea. Ballack, Chelsea's stand-in captain, took the free-kick and watched as it bent agonisingly wide of the far stick with Howard scrambling. Chelsea were looking to have the game wrapped up in the first-half, and began the second half as they first forty-five minutes had ended - in control and looking threatening.

Wright-Phillips shot wide moments later before a crucial decision by referee Walton. Jon Obi Mikel appeared to challenge Lee Carsley with two feet was duly sent off. Replays indicate the decision was harsh although gives implications that referees are finally beginning to show some consistency in awarding red card for potentially dangerous challenges. Despite Everton's numerical advantage, Chelsea fashioned more chances before Claudio Pizarro saw his shot from the edge of the area flash wide. But Yakubu equalised for the away team when he hammered home Joseph Yobo's pass into the danger zone. Hilario mis-judged the flight of the ball and looked on helplessly as the ball was rifled into the net. Suddenly Everton were in the ascendancy and Chelsea had had their sails robbed of the wind.

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But with minutes remaining, Lescott headed home after Ballack had put the ball back in the area when he was caught stationary by Shaun Wright-Phillips, giving Chelsea a precious aggregate lead after Hilario had saved well at the feet of Lescott after the England defender had knocked the ball forward and prepared to pull the trigger.

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Match Fact : Chelsea have kept just one clean sheet in their last seven matches against Everton.

Chelsea: Hilario (6), Belletti (6), Alex (6), Carvalho (6), Bridge (8), Wright-Phillips (8), Mikel (5), Ballack (7), Malouda (5) (Ben-Haim (6)), Joe Cole (7) (Sidwell (6)), Pizarro (4) (Ferreira (6)).

Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Sahar.

Sent Off: Mikel (55).

Booked: Joe Cole, Belletti.

Goals: Wright-Phillips 26, Lescott 90 og.

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott, Cahill, Neville, Carsley, McFadden, Johnson, Yakubu (Anichebe 89).

Subs Not Used: Wessels, Gravesen, Vaughan, Nuno Valente.

Booked: Carsley, Hibbert, Neville, Johnson.

Goals: Yakubu 64.

Attendance: 41,178

Referee: Peter Walton

Man of the Match : Shaun Wright-Phillips

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Edited by BlueLion
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