Chelsea threw away a 2-0 lead in an embarrassing display as they crashed out of the FA Cup against Bradford on Saturday. It will be a result that will go down in history for both the League One side and the FA Cup in general. Gary Cahill and Ramires put the home side ahead, but Bradford roared back with goals from Jon Stead, Felipe Morais, Andy Halliday and Mark Yeates sending them through.
Jose Mourinho fielded a second string side with one eye on the League Cup semi against Liverpool on Tuesday. Youngster Andreas Christensen was among those given a chance, while Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were all given a rest. With a huge gap between these sides, Mourinho would have expected his second string to come through comfortably.
And early on, they did. Petr Cech was at his best to deny Bradford, before the Blues took the lead. Gary Cahill flicked the ball home from a corner to put Chelsea ahead. Ramires made it 2-0 late in the first half, slotting home after a lung busting run and trading passes with Mo Salah. They looked to be comfortably heading into the next round, but somehow they collapsed.
From the home side’s point of view, things took a turn for the worse just minutes after their second goal, as Stead pulled one back for Bradford. He found himself unmarked at the edge of the box, and his shot was too powerful for Cech to keep out. The defending there was poor, but things were just about to get a whole lot worse.
With just 15 minutes to go former Chelsea academy player Morais hit home an equaliser as he found himself completely free in the box too. Mourinho’s side seemed to have utterly forgotten the concept of marking, with runners having an absolute field day. As the defenders followed the ball, they were all at sea when it came across to Morais, and he had little work to do to level the scores.
You’d expect a response after that, and the Blues’ reaction was full scale attack. It’s tough to say if that was something decided by the manager or the players, but either way it cost them. They had a couple of minor chances to avoid a replay, but then they fell behind. Once again the players were drawn to the ball like moths to a flame, abandoning all positions and throwing the shape of the team into disarray. That left Halliday in all kinds of space at the edge of the box, and he was able to sweep the ball past Cech to send the visiting fans wild.
Once again, Chelsea threw themselves forward looking for an equaliser. When Bradford then got the ball and came forward, they were once again all out of position. They were in such poor shape that somehow Stead managed to tee up Yeates whose run was unmarked, despite there being five Chelsea defenders in the box. There was a limp effort to try and dispossess Yeates, but he tapped home from close range to cap a great day for the travelling support, and an awful one for the Premier League leaders.