Chelsea booked a place in the last 16 of the League Cup with a win at League One Walsall. Jose Mourinho fielded a rotated team at the Bescot Stadium, but they still had few problems against their lower league opponents. Goals from Ramires, Loic Remy, Kenedy and Pedro helped the visitors to the win, which sees them meet Stoke in round four.
John Terry returned to captain the side here, over six months since he lifted the League Cup trophy at Wembley. He was joined on the pitch by both Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy, with Abdul Baba Rahman also making a start. Rueben Loftus-Cheek and Kenedy were both handed starts, while John Obi Mikel and Ramires were also brought in to midfield.
Despite the many changes, the Blues came in here as heavy favourites. They still have an expensively assembled squad out, and they couldn’t afford a slip up after their start to the season. With that expectation on their shoulders, it was good that they took the lead within 10 minutes. A cross in from Kenedy found his compatriot Ramires in the box, with the former Benfica man scoring a rare header.
Falcao saw his effort cleared off the line as he looked to double the lead. The second goal came soon after though, with Ramires involved again. He played the ball through to Remy, who finished emphatically to get his first goal of the season.
The tie looked a little shakier moments later, as the hosts pulled one back. Former Blue Milan Lalkovic put in a free kick for the hosts, which fell to James O’Connor. He tapped home to reduce the deficit, giving the League One side a boost just before they went in for half-time. The appearance of Lalkovic could also serve as a warning to Chelsea’s young stars.
Two of those young hopefuls combined for the third goal, as the visitors restored their two goal lead. Mikel found Loftus-Cheek unmarked outside the box, and he played a wonderful first time ball through to Kenedy, and the Brazilian got a deserved goal after a great display. The goal showed the potential of both those players, which will surely put a smile on Mourinho’s face.
The win was completed late on by summer signing Pedro. He replaced Kenedy with 20 minutes to go, and he made sure of the win. After receiving the ball from Falcao, the former Barca player ran at the Walsall defence, before firing in from 20 yards out. The goalkeeper should have done better, but the Spaniard will be delighted to add to his Blues tally.
That win has set up a tie at the Britannia Stadium with Stoke in the next round, with the Pensioners looking to make it back to back wins in this competition. Expect to see the big names back in the squad for the Newcastle game this weekend, but the youngsters will be pushing for starts now after some solid displays.
LCN Man of the Match: Kenedy