Cool heads prevail as Ivanovic fires to final
Chelsea set up shot at silverware as Serb’s extra-time winner stuns Liverpool after hot-headed battle
BRANISLAV IVANOVIC kept his head as Chelsea edged a frenetic, ill-tempered clash with Liverpool to advance to the Capital One Cup final.
An Ivanovic header in the fourth minute of extra-time proved the difference as Chelsea responded from the humiliating FA Cup defeat to League One Bradford City to advance to a first final of Jose Mourinho’s second spell as boss.
A 1-1 first-leg draw at Anfield meant it was all down to the Stamford Bridge clash and the 1-0 victory for Mourinho means he has now won four of his five contests with Brendan Rodgers, once his protege and now a bitter rival.
The managers confronted each other on the touchline as a tempestuous contest featuring nine bookings spilled into the technical area.
A comical moment followed as Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe offered the Portuguese his glasses. Mourinho was not amused.
The Chelsea manager spent much of the night fuming, but it was Rodgers who had reason to feel most aggrieved early on as Diego Costa should have been sent off for stamping on Emre Can’s ankle.
Costa should then have had a penalty when tripped by Martin Skrtel, but referee Michael Oliver waved away appeals, much to the astonishment and anger of Mourinho.
Twice Liverpool spurned chances to take the lead as Thibaut Courtois saved well from Alberto Moreno and then Philippe Coutinho, while Simon Mignolet twice denied Costa at the other end.
Mourinho raged at Oliver when Jordan Henderson avoided a second booking for handball and his displeasure with the officials continued into extra-time as he missed Ivanovic’s header while talking to fourth official Phil Dowd.
With Frank Lampard’s Manchester City visiting Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday, the additional half hour was less than welcome, but Chelsea showed a grit and determination lacking against Bradford to prevail.
There was no place for Gary Cahill as Mourinho reverted to his first-choice line-up following the defeat to Bradford.
Kurt Zouma, partnering John Terry in defence, was assigned to halt Raheem Sterling and did what Cahill failed to do in the first leg by stopping the Liverpool livewire on the edge of the box.
It was not a night for a cultured playmaker as the challenges continued to fly in, with both sides collecting yellow cards.
Chelsea eventually struck when, with Liverpool’s defence missing, Ivanovic headed in a Willian free-kick.
Henderson should have done better than head wide from a Sterling cross as Liverpool tried to force penalties, but there was time for Costa to grapple with Gerrard, with both booked, as Chelsea moved on to the final.
BLUE THEM AWAY: Mourinho’s men in jubilation after edging past Liverpool and into the League Cup final for the first time in seven years.