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

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL - MATT MCGEE­HAN

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.

Pic­ture: Getty Images

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.

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