Goals from Kurt Zouma and Oscar helped Chelsea to beat Bolton and claim a place in the last 16 of the League Cup, where they’ll face League Two side Shrewsbury. Zouma opened the scoring on his debut with a strike from a corner, while Oscar’s low drive gave the Blues the lead after Matt Mills’ equaliser.
Jose Mourinho made several changes to his side, giving many first team stars a rest. Petr Cech made his first start of the season while Zouma and Loic Remy made their first Chelsea starts. There was a youthful edge to the side, with Zouma being joined by midfielder Nathan Ake, who looked impressive throughout.
The Blues dominated early on and looked like they were on their way to an easy victory, but Bolton keeper Andy Lonergan was in inspired form to keep the home side at bay. Andre Schurrle swung in the corner, and after Gary Cahill’s header was blocked, Loic Remy nodded the ball back across goal and Zouma scored the opener.
That lead lasted little over five minutes, with Bolton hitting back through a free kick. The ball was whipped in and caught the Chelsea defence cold, and Matt Mills scored to level things up. They went in at half time level at 1-1, despite Chelsea dominating the first half.
The home side started the second just as brightly as they had the first, and they found the winner after 55 minutes. A blocked shot from Loic Remy came out to Oscar, who produced his most influential performance in a long time, and he drilled a low shot into the Bolton goal. It was no less than Chelsea deserved, but they couldn’t find a third to seal the win. They ended up having to defend late on, with Cech called into action with five minutes left to maintain the lead.
After the game the draw for the next round was made, and Chelsea will be heading to League Two side Shrewsbury Town next month after they knocked out Championship side Norwich. They are the lowest ranked side left in the cup, and we should see another rotated team and possibly a few more young stars.
After the game, assistant manager Steve Holland spoke about the result and the performance of the players. “The players’ mentality was excellent right from the kick-off. Their approach and quality was very good,” he said. “At half-time we said we couldn’t ask for much more apart from a little detail in the two penalty boxes.”
On Zouma he said, “We have talked about him for games in the Premier League although he hasn’t yet. He is in the discussions. He is not an inexperienced kid. He has played games for St-Etienne both as a right-back and centre-back, he is a France Under-21 international in a strong group, and tonight without being particularly tested he was immaculate. What he did have to do he dealt with comfortably and being a threat in the opposition penalty box is a big bonus for a centre-back.
“There will be more difficult tests ahead for him but he did everything that was asked of him tonight as did Nathan Ake, another young player who has played in the first team before. It was no surprise he was almost pass-perfect. I don’t recall him making a bad decision.”
LCN man of the match: Nathan Ake