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Everton 0 - 1 Chelsea


BlueLion.

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Everton 0 - 1 Chelsea F.C.

Wednesday 23 January 2008, League Cup Semi-Final, Second Leg, Goodison Park, Liverpool

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Joe Cole's volley ensured Chelsea progressed to the League Cup Final to set up a showdown with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.


But whilst the England winger's explosive volley won the game for the West London outfit, it was Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech who stole all the accolades with a man-of-the-match performance against a determined Everton side. Cech's excellence underlined his value to the club and despite reaching his fourth cup final in a Chelsea jersey, Cech was a proud man walking for more than one reason as his wife had given birth to the couple's first child the day previous.

For this crunch affair with the Toffees, Avram Grant's side were boosted by the return to fitness of Shaun Wright-Phillips who had suffered an ankle injury against Birmingham at the weekend. Steve Sidwell deputised for the injured Michael Ballack who had pulled up with a calf strain and did not travel to Liverpool with his team-mates. Claude Makelele captained the side with John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba all missing. Wayne Bridge played ahead of Ashley Cole in the left-back position whilst Nicolas Anelka, Joe Cole and former Lyon forward Florent Malouda spearheaded the Chelsea attack.

Everton were not without their own injuries, although Leon Osman passed a late fitness test as the blue half of Merseyside bid to participate in their first domestic cup final since 1995. Yakubu and Joseph Yobo were the most notable absentees, joining Steven Pienaar at the African Cup of Nations.

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The game started at an incredible pace, as Everton responded to the cacophony of noise generated by their enthusiastic supporters. However despite their dominance, Alex and Ricardo Carvalho at the centre of the Chelsea rearguard were playing brilliantly as the hosts failed to break down the Londoner's defence. Whilst Mikel Arteta was pumping ball after ball into the box, Petr Cech responded very several sound catches before he responded brilliantly to deny Joleon Lescott. The England international had made a trademark run from deep and though his effort lacked the necessary conviction, the Chelsea shot stopper responded well to turn the ball away.

And despite the early tempo of the game, Everton's pressure was soon met by the steel of Chelsea's backline, as Juliano Belletti and Wayne Bridge complimented a watertight backline. Everton managed to breakthrough on occasions, but the isolated presence of Andy Johnson as Everton's main goal threat was forming no problem for the yellow-stripped visitors. Manuel Fernandes, making his second debut for Everton, was playing excellently in the midfield alongside Everton, restricting Chelsea's counter-attacks to the wings, where Florent Malouda and Joe Cole found Jagielka and Joleon Lescott difficult opponents to overcome.

Howard was only seriously tested on one occasion, as Anelka demonstrated excellent agility to turn and shoot at the American's goal, but the Everton number 24 had the angle in his favour. Shaun Wright-Phillips had also saw an excellent opportunity deflected over off the head of Jagielka, but it was Everton applying the majority of the pressure.

The second half saw the first tipped on its head as Chelsea raced out of the starting blocks. Everton were looking tired after all of their early effort and gaps were beginning to appear in the centre of midfield. Malouda was looking more content with the ball at his feet and was finding more joy against Jagielka, whilst Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips had exchanged positions with the Chelsea number 10 operating through the centre behind Anelka whilst Wright-Phillips drifted to the wing. Steven Sidwell was looking solid at the centre of the park and was finding his more defensively-orientated role in front of the back four much suitable to his playing style.

Anelka smashed an effort onto the crossbar, the second time in his three-game career he has done so. The ball fell kindly to him outside the area and he unleashed a curling effort which deflected off of Jagielka and against the woodwork. It was an excellent if not fortunate block by the Everton player, but an important one nonetheless. Cech made an excellent double save as he fisted away a drive from Phil Neville before reacting brilliantly to deny the rebound with his feet. He later stopped Johnson with an excellent block at his near post to push the ball over the crossbar. The Czech was a determined man and would not surrender his clean sheet.

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But it Chelsea who stole the win as Malouda danced up to the halfway line with the ball, before firing gloriously into the path of Joe Cole. The Englishman's touch was deft and his second was sublime, but it was his third that was the clinical finish and the final nail into the coffin for Everton. The brave attempts of the Toffees had been thwarted by Malouda's vision to unlock the defence and Cole's excellent volleyed finish, as the Blues set up their third Carling Cup final in the space of four seasons.
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Match Fact : Petr Cech has kept 12 clean sheets in his last fourteen games for Chelsea.

Everton: Howard (6), Neville (6), Jagielka (8), Lescott (7), Nuno Valente (6), Osman (5), Cahill (6), Carsley (5) (Anichebe (6)), Arteta (6), Fernandes (7) (Vaughan (6)), Johnson (5).
Subs Not Used: Wessels, Hibbert, Stubbs.

Booked: Carsley, Fernandes, Nuno Valente, Neville.

Chelsea: Cech (10), Belletti (7), Carvalho (8), Alex (7), Bridge (6), Makelele (9), Malouda (6) (Ashley Cole (6)), Sidwell (6), Joe Cole (7) (Pizarro (6)), Wright-Phillips (6), Anelka (8) (Ben-Haim (6)).
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Ferreira.

Booked: Makelele, Belletti.

Goals: Joe Cole 69.

Aggregate (1-3)

Attendance: 37,086

Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent).

Man of the Match : Petr Cech

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Edited by BlueLion
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