We take a look back at the midweek Carabao Cup action
THERE will definitely be EFL representation in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup – thanks to Burton Albion and Middlesbrough.
Burton took the scalp of Nottingham Forest to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history, while Boro beat Premier League Crystal Palace – then they were drawn against each other.
Burton turned in a terrific performance to down Forest 3-2 at the Pirelli Stadium. They might have feared it wasn’t going to be their night when Liam Boyce blazed a penalty over the bar in the first half, but they put that disappointment behind them in stunning fashion in the second period.
Scott Fraser’s shot looped off Forest defender Saidy Janko for an own goal to break the deadlock on 52 minutes and the Brewers doubled their lead 12 minutes later through Fraser’s clinical finish.
Sub Lewis Grabban pulled one back with 20 minutes left, but any Burton nerves were eased when Jake Hesketh slammed home a stunning far post volley with eight minutes left.
There was still time for Forest to reduce the arrears in stoppage time through 17-year-old sub Arvin Appiah, with his first goal for the club, but the battling Brewers held on.
Delighted boss Nigel Clough said: “To get to the last eight as a League One club is pretty special.
“If we had finished our chances in the first half the game would have been over, but we showed great character to come out and do it again.”
Forest boss Aitor Karanka, who made ten changes, couldn’t hide his frustration at his team’s exit.
“I’m really angry because a team from League One, a team which has played four games in ten days, has looked much better than us. They were much stronger and they wanted everything more than we did.
“I just feel embarrassed and sorry for the supporters who travelled this evening because we all came here thinking we could achieve something good.”
Burton can now look forward to a quarter-final at Middlesbrough, who dispatched Roy Hodgson’s Palace at the Riverside.
It was by no means a classic but at least a goal of the highest quality won it. Midfielder Lewis Wing, 23, who joined Boro from Northern League outfit Shildon in the summer of 2017 and had a spell on loan at Yeovil last term, smashed a 25-yard rocket into the roof of the net to earn a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
“It takes a wonder goal from Wingy to give us that lead,” said Boro boss Tony Pulis. “He’s signed a new contract and I’m really pleased he’s with us.
“He’s got a long way to go and there’s things that he needs to improve on, but his enthusiasm to play and to want to play and to learn is first class. We’ve got to make sure we encourage that.”
Burton boss Clough knows his side will face a major challenge when they travel to the north-east in the quarter-finals.
“The one thing is that it gives us a chance,” he said. “They have knocked out a Premier League side tonight so that tells you how difficult it will be but we will give it everything to try and make the last four.”
Elsewhere, EFL hopes bit the dust – but not without a real fight.
Frank Lampard took his Derby side to his old club Chelsea and saw them give the Blues a real run for their money, leaving him a proud man.
Freak own goals from defenders Fikayo Tomori, ironically on loan with the Rams from Chelsea, and Richard Keogh gave Chelsea a leg up, but twice Derby hit back to stun Stamford Bridge. Former Peterborough striker Jack Marriott clinically drove home the first equaliser before Martyn Waghorn tapped home at the far post after good work from Mason Mount. Cesc Farbregas put Chelsea back in front before the break to wrap up the scoring, though Derby were cursing their luck when David Nugent hit the inside of the post late on. League One outfit Blackpool put in a terrific display at Arsenal, going down to a narrow 2-1 defeat. Goals from Stephan Lichtsteiner and Emile Smith Rowe seemed to have the Gunners coasting at the Emirates, but the dismissal of midfielder Matteo Guendouzi for his second bookable offence on 56 minutes gave the Seasiders a lifeline.
And they were right back in it ten minutes later when defender Paudie O’Connor, on loan from Leeds, headed in from a corner.