Zouma plays full game for Blues

Chelsea win penalty shootout af­ter game

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports International Football - BY ADAM SHERGOLD/

Kurt Zouma stepped up his re­cov­ery from the hor­rific knee in­jury that kept him side­lined for seven months as he com­pleted Chelsea’s Check­a­trade Tro­phy match with Ox­ford United - which was de­cided by an epic penalty shootout of some 34 kicks.

The 22-year-old French de­fender re­mains on course to re­turn to An­to­nio Conte’s plans af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break af­ter he came through a third re­serve fix­ture un­scathed in the past fort­night. It leaves Chelsea op­ti­mistic that Zouma could be avail­able for their Premier League visit to Mid­dles­brough on Novem­ber 20, his first out­ing since dam­ag­ing his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ments in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Fe­bru­ary 7. The se­vere in­jury ruled Zouma out of the con­clu­sion to Chelsea’s 2015-16 sea­son and the be­gin­ning of this one, as well as the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship with France.

Help­fully, Zouma’s come­back games in the re­serves have been at the heart of a three-man defence, echo­ing the highly-ef­fec­tive sys­tem he will re­turn into un­der Conte.

And he looked his usual com­posed and ac­com­plished self here as Chelsea had to set­tle for a draw with their League One op­po­nents when Kane Hem­mings slot­ted home in the fourth minute of stop­page time to can­cel out Josi­mar Quin­tero’s opener.

Ox­ford knew they were go­ing through, Chelsea knew they were out but this be­ing the Tro­phy, we then had to have a penalty shoot-out that was in­cred­i­bly dra­matic de­spite its fu­til­ity.

Zouma scored both of his kicks and went on and on with nei­ther side able to fin­ish it off un­til Ox­ford’s Wes Thomas was the fall guy.

/COUR­TESY

Kurt Zouma cried out in pain af­ter suf­fer­ing an aw­ful in­jury against Manchester United on Sun­day.

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