Brentford 0-2 Chelsea: Youngsters propel Blues to Carabao Cup semis

Brentford 0-2 Chelsea: Blues leave it late to reach Carabao Cup semi-finals with Jorginho penalty wrapping up victory after Pontus Jansson’s own goal as youngsters star

  • A much-changed Chelsea side beat Brentford 2-0 in the Carabao Cup
  • An own goal 10 minutes from time by Pontus Jansson broke the deadlock
  • A penalty from Jorginho in the 85th sealed victory for Thomas Tuchel’s side
  • Chelsea joined Tottenham, Arsenal and Leicester in semi-final draw 

Thomas Frank wished for a little Christmas miracle and Brentford are unlikely to have a better chance of taking down the European champions but this night will go down as a triumph for Thomas Tuchel.

The Chelsea boss juggled his squad, started with three teenagers, resisted early pressure and relied upon goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to make crucial saves in the first half, before releasing his stars from the bench to force the win.

The goals came courtesy of an 80th-minute own goal fired into the top corner by Pontus Jansson as he tried to intercept a fierce low cross from Reece James. And a penalty, five minutes later, won by Christian Pulisic and converted by Jorginho.

Chelsea beat Brentford 2-0 to advance to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup on Thursday

Brentford defender Pontus Jansson’s own goal broke the deadlock in the 80th minute

Midfielder Jorginho clinched the win for Chelsea by converting a penalty in the 85th minute

Chelsea, five times winners of the competition move into the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, with two more games to their crowded schedule next month.

Brentford may live to rue this missed opportunity. They have had some noisy nights of celebration here this season, but this was not one of them.

Tuchel turned to Chelsea’s next generation to ease the burden on his squad hit by Covid positives and injuries, and creaking under the congested schedule.

There were three teenage debutants starting, completing a half century of academy graduates to have represented the club in the Roman Abramovich era. Strikers Jude Soonsup-Bell, 17, and Harvey Vale, 18, were both born this side of the Abramovich takeover in the summer of 2003. Xavier Simons came in at right wing-back.

Brentford, after two Covid-related postponements, were playing for the first time in almost a fortnight. And, from the moment the teams were announced, they were coping with a hitherto unknown level of expectation.

Even the home crowd seemed suppressed, as if nervous to have been presented with this rare opportunity to embarrass their illustrious West London neighbours. Frank’s team sat deep and sought to spring out on the turnover of possession, and created the first clear chance of the night.

Coach Thomas Tuchel turned to Chelsea’s next generation to ease the burden on his squad

Thomas Frank’s Brentford had a wonderful opportunity to beat their west London rivals

Rico Henry and Bryan Mbeumo combined on the left and Mbeumo picked out Yoane Wissa, who was unmarked in front of goal. There was no flag despite a hint of offside and Wissa ought to have scored. His header lacked the power to beat Kepa Arrizabalaga, who pushed it away.

Brentford engineered another opening in similar fashion. Henry clipped the ball over from the left and midfielder Mathias Jensen arrived into space at the back post. His header forced another save from the Chelsea goalkeeper.

Kepa made another important save before the half-time interval, closing down the angle and making a block from Henry, who broke clear behind Simons.

Chelsea enjoyed plenty of midfield possession with little intensity and without troubling goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez. Ross Barkley sent a volley skidding well wide from a cross by Soonsup-Bell, and Cesar Azpilicueta fired over from distance.

Simons drew a save from Fernandez with a low drive sent flashing across the surface from 25 yards before their best chance of the first half fell to Vale, who slipped away from his marker to meet a cross from Azpilicueta but was unable to guide his header past the ‘keeper.

Tuchel, with five substitutes at his disposal in this competition, sent on Jorginho and Pulisic at half time. Jorginho assumed his usual position in front of the centre halves, and did his best to lift the tempo.

Jorginho and Reece James were among the first-teamers Tuchel turned to at half-time

Substitute Christian Pulisic won a penalty when he was brought down by Alvaro Fernandez

The visitors improved and began to go forward with more purpose and threat. Fernandez made a scrambling save on his line when a Chelsea cross came through a crowded penalty area, hit Henry and deflected towards his own goal.

Barkley pounced on the rebound but was unable to force it into the net. Brentford packed in tightly around their penalty area to absorb the pressure. Barkley went close again sliding onto a low cross.

As the clock ticked past the hour, both managers made tactical moves from the bench in a bid to find a winner. Frank sent on Ivan Toney and Christian Norgaard while Tuchel replaced his teenagers from the action, replacing them with Mason Mount and James. They were soon followed by N’Golo Kante, his fifth and final change.

Jorginho celebrates with Marcos Alonso (left) after clinching the win from the penalty spot

James made an instant impact with a swerving free-kick, punched out by Fernandez and collected by Barkley, who took aim once again. This time, his shot was closed down by Ethan Pinnock and flashed wide.

Toney’s presence provided Brentford with an aerial option although Chelsea remained in control of the game. The home side failed to generate a late flurry as they did during a gallant defeat to Tuchel’s team in October.

Kepa had little to do in the second half and the visitors made the breakthrough soon after Kante came on. It was Kante who released James on the right in the build up to Jansson’s own goal. There really is no substitute for quality substitutes.

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