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Ruthless Chelsea put six past Middlesbrough to claim place in Carabao Cup final

Cole Palmer and Conor Gallagher celebrate

Mauricio Pochettino has been there before, in his first season at Tottenham Hotspur, when he reached a League Cup final and went down at the final hurdle at Wembley, although in those early days at that club he will have assumed there was plenty of time yet.

But he came to learn that it moves swiftly and the chance to grab a first major English trophy can slip away, although the opportunity presents itself again next month. It will, most likely, be Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool whom Chelsea face on Feb 25 at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final – and no doubt it will be Chelsea’s old enemy who are favourites. But this is a chance to do something in a season that has, at times, jolted and bucked for Pochettino.

They buried Middlesbrough with six goals that were redolent of a lost era at Stamford Bridge. One in which the home team were dominant and opposition often crumbled, even if on this occasion it was not one of the Premier League or European elite but a mid-table Championship side suddenly found to be way out of its depth.

There will be inevitable comparisons with the transformative League Cup titles that Jose Mourinho won in both his spells at Chelsea, the first of which came in his first season at the club in 2004-05. It was Mourinho’s second-era Chelsea team that beat Pochettino’s Spurs in 2015. Yet Pochettino is a long way from the Premier League-winning side that Mourinho built in both eras before both projects ended with him being escorted out the door.

Pochettino’s current squad might be the most expensively assembled in Premier League history, in fees alone, but even with six goals scored it remains a work in progress.

Should Liverpool make good on their first-half lead at Craven Cottage on the second leg of the second semi-final against Fulham on Wednesday night, then a beguiling final awaits. This is the most stable run Pochettino’s side have been on with five wins from their last six games and the only defeat the first leg of this semi-final at the Riverside.

They face Aston Villa at home in the FA Cup on Friday when there is, given their unpredictability, more scope for embarrassment – although this night Pochettino could at least enjoy the moment. Middlesbrough were, frankly, something of a disaster, but even so there were traces of what Chelsea might be against better teams. Swift on the counter-attack, they took their chances – and none more so than that elegant penalty-box marksman, Cole Palmer.

Cole Palmer slots the ball into the Middlesbrough net
Palmer slots the ball into the Middlesbrough net - Matthew Childs/Action Images

Palmer, with two goals, has established himself as Chelsea’s most effective goalscorer, with 11 this season in all competitions. There are also strong signs of form from Raheem Sterling and second-half substitute Conor Gallagher, rested from the first XI, who created two goals.

A dismal evening for Michael Carrick who looked ever more crestfallen as the cameras cut to the close-up for every Chelsea goal that went in. The man who was part of the last great Sir Alex Ferguson period at Manchester United has been on the other side of these mismatches as a player before. On the wrong end of this one, he will no doubt have wondered about his own approach to protecting that first-leg lead.

This was a night that Carrick will have hoped that his own tactical tweaks might have made a difference with the eyes of the English game on Stamford Bridge, but management can be a cruel business.

Carrick’s big idea was to play Jonny Howson as a midfielder in possession and a third centre-half when Middlesbrough did not have the ball. In the first five minutes this tidy footballer sent Enzo Fernandez off after a ball that was not there anymore and then later glided past the other £100 million man, Moises Caicedo. The good times were not to last.

Howson scored the own goal that levelled the tie – a misfortune that could befall any committed defender. Nevertheless, he and team-mates then seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time for much of the first half. Middlesbrough tried to pass the ball out from the back and as their confidence ebbed Chelsea seized on it over and over again.

Jonny Howson puts the ball into his own net
Jonny Howson puts the ball into his own net - Matthew Childs/Action Images

Ben Chilwell, starting his first game for four months, created the first with a run inside from the left and a deft ball behind for Sterling. His cross was aimed at Armando Broja but a leg stuck out by Howson sent it past Tom Glover. Sterling was in behind for the second goal and his back heel to Axel Disasi went from Broja, off Dael Fry and on to Fernandez to score. That was 28 minutes played and then Middlesbrough really began to fall apart.

The third and fourth goals were both on the transition as the Middlesbrough passing patterns deep in their own half collapsed for the away side. Disasi got the first of those two, having made the original interception. Dan Barlaser and Hayden Hackney essayed a poor exchange in their own half and Palmer took the ball for the fourth.

There was a debut for Chelsea academy starlet Leo Castledine, 18, who was born in August 2005, after Chelsea won their first Premier League title and first League Cup of the modern era. Palmer and then the substitute Noni Madueke scored the fifth and the sixth goals. Morgan Rogers, the former Manchester City academy boy, scored a decent late goal for the away side.


Chelsea vs Middlesbrough: As it happened


10:28 PM GMT

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino speaking to Sky Sports

“Today we were very clinical in front of goal. We missed that in the first leg and we were disappointed. Today we were really good and I think that is the difference.”

On Cole Palmer:

“He is a player with an amazing talent. It is a player that understands the game. He has the quality and the talent to see the situation and to read the game in another aspect.

“He can play from the right, striker or in behind the striker. We try to give him freedom because in this type of game he can find the best position to help the team.

“For me, [the best part] is when he presses and then the intuition to get the ball back. He is still young but he is doing fantastic for us.”


10:25 PM GMT

Chelsea into the League Cup final


10:09 PM GMT

League Cup finals


10:07 PM GMT

Man of the match Cole Palmer speaking to Sky Sports

“After the first game, we knew it’d be difficult but to get the win and go to Wembley for the first time this season, it’s going to be a good day.

“I missed three sitters in the first game so it was always in the back of my mind coming into this game. To score two and go through to Wembley, I’m happy.

“We’ve not had the best of starts, there is no hiding it but to go to Wembley is a great opportunity to get a trophy and we’re looking forward to it.”


10:04 PM GMT

Chelsea defender Axel Disasi speaking to Sky Sports

“Today was a great game after losing the first game. I’m happy because we showed another face and deserved to win. For me, it will be the first time I go to Wembley so I’m happy about this.

“After the first game, we were all angry and the coach said we had to push and play hard. He [Pochettino] put me at right-back and I tried to do my best for the team.

“We have to keep this mentality in the league also to win more games. I think we are in a good way and need to stay focused.”


10:00 PM GMT

Goal contributions


09:58 PM GMT

Glenn Murray on BBC Radio 5 Live

“It would be huge for him [Pochettino] and set a precedent as in his first full year at the club to win a trophy. It is still a major trophy and he will see that as the start of hopefully a lot of silverware for the football club.

“The fans want to be top of the league and challenge for the Champions League, but if they can win some silverware then that would be seen as a huge success and progression of this project at Chelsea.”


09:55 PM GMT

Gary Neville on Sky Sports

“Chelsea just had too much for Middlesbrough.

“The visitors contributed to their own downfall but the quality was still there from Chelsea.

“Chelsea have a new everything and winning trophies is what will accelerate their journey.”


09:51 PM GMT

Full-time

That is it at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are through to the League Cup final at Wembley, where they will play Liverpool or Fulham, who play tomorrow night at Craven Cottage in the second leg of that semi-final. Liverpool lead 2-1 in the other semi-final after the first leg.


09:48 PM GMT

90 minutes: Chelsea 6 Middlesbrough 1 (6-2 on aggregate)

There will be three minutes of added time at the end of this game.


09:46 PM GMT

89 minutes: Chelsea 6 Middlesbrough 1 (6-2 on aggregate)

Middlesbrough make a change as Gilbert replaces Crooks.


09:46 PM GMT

GOAL! Rogers gets consolation goal for the visitors

It is mere consolation but that is a really nice finish from Rogers. He cuts inside onto his right and from just outside the box he curls one into the far corner and beats Petrovic. 6-2 on aggregate, only another four goals in a few minutes to get back on level terms!

Middlesbrough's Morgan Rogers carries the ball after scoring his side's first goal
Morgan Rogers (left) gave the Middlesbrough fans something to cheer about on an otherwise difficult night - Kin Cheung/AP

09:44 PM GMT

86 minutes: Chelsea 6 Middlesbrough 0 (6-1 on aggregate)

Chelsea’s six-goal tally tonight is the joint-most goals scored in a semi-final second leg in League Cup history alongside Aston Villa in 2009-10.


09:42 PM GMT

85 minutes: Chelsea 6 Middlesbrough 0 (6-1 on aggregate)

Chelsea make another change as Sterling is replaced by Castledine.


09:40 PM GMT

82 minutes: Chelsea 6 Middlesbrough 0 (6-1 on aggregate)

Crooks heads it into the far corner and he thinks he has a consolation goal for the visitors but the offside flag is up. That was a close call but he looked just offside.


09:39 PM GMT

GOAL! Chelsea make it 6-0

This is getting very ugly for Michael Carrick’s side. Once again like on so many occasions tonight Middlesbrough give it away deep in their own half. Madueke cuts inside onto his preferred left foot and curls towards the goal. It comes off van den Berg and into his own net, but Madueke will be given the goal as it was on target.

Noni Madueke of Chelsea celebrates scoring his team's sixth goal
Noni Madueke makes it 6-0 - Darren Walsh/Getty Images

09:36 PM GMT

GOAL! Palmer adds Chelsea's fifth

Palmer has his second of the night. Chelsea take possession off Middlesbrough deep inside their half. Gallagher gets to the byline and cuts it back for Palmer, who slots it into the back of the net with a first-time finish. 5-0 to Chelsea, 5-1 on aggregate.

Chelsea's Cole Palmer celebrates scoring their fifth goal
Cole Palmer adds his second of the night - Dylan Martinez/Reuters

09:34 PM GMT

76 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Good interplay between Madueke and Chukwuemeka inside the Middlesbrough box on the right earns the hosts a corner, which is massively over-hit. That was terrible from Palmer, one of the worst corners you will see.


09:32 PM GMT

74 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Nearly a calamitous situation for the visitors. They play it around the back rather unconvincingly and Sterling nearly nips in to score but Fry does enough to block it. That would have been a truly awful goal to concede.


09:29 PM GMT

72 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Another change, this time from Chelsea as Chukwuemeka comes on for Caicedo.


09:28 PM GMT

70 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Michael Carrick is making a change as Howson, who scored an own goal in the first half, is taken off for O’Brien.


09:27 PM GMT

68 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Gallagher has a good chance running through on goal but he takes too long to take the shot inside the Middlesbrough box and it goes behind for a Chelsea corner. Chelsea play it around the box and Palmer lifts a ball into Disasi but he cannot get the contact he wants on it.


09:22 PM GMT

64 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Van Den Berg is booked for a foul on Sterling.

Mauricio Pochettino is making a double change as Gilchrist replaces Chilwell, who was making his first start since September, and Gallagher comes on for Broja.


09:21 PM GMT

62 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Engel whip in a dangerous cross from the left which Crooks cannot quite get on the end of. It ends up at the feet of Rogers inside the Chelsea box but his shot is blocked.


09:11 PM GMT

54 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Thiago Silva is booked for a foul on Rogers and Middlesbrough have a free-kick in a decent area. But the free-kick is wasted and it is cleared away by Madueke, who is back on after receiving some treatment on his shoulder.


09:10 PM GMT

52 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Colwill shoots from just inside the Middlesbrough box but his curled effort from the right cannot find the far corner.


09:09 PM GMT

52 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Madueke has hurt his shoulder but it looks like he may be able to continue.

Chilwell takes the corner but it is headed away.


09:08 PM GMT

50 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Chelsea have the first corner of the second half. Madueke has only just come on but is down in pain.


09:04 PM GMT

46 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

Play is momentarily stopped right at the start of the second half as Rogers is down but he is back up on his feet.


09:03 PM GMT

Second half

A change apiece at the break. Dijksteel on for Forss for Middlesbrough and Madueke on for Mudryk for Chelsea.

We are back under way at Stamford Bridge.


08:59 PM GMT

Former Middlesbrough midfielder Stewart Downing on BBC Radio 5 Live

“This has been the Chelsea team that came to play tonight. They have come with a different mindset. They know there is a big day out at Chelsea.

“They know what is at stake and they know they have the whole world to prove wrong. They have spent a lot of money and it is starting to look like it is money well spent, this project.

“It looks like it is starting to get off the ground.”


08:53 PM GMT

Sky Sports' Gary Neville at Stamford Bridge

“This is just what [Mauricio] Pochettino would have wanted.

“He wouldn’t have thought this game would be over at half time but that’s what he’s got.

“They just need to be professional in the second half now.”


08:47 PM GMT

Half-time

That is it for the first half at Stamford Bridge and that blitz from Chelsea in the opening 45 minutes of this second leg has surely sent them through to the final with 45 minutes left.


08:45 PM GMT

45 minutes: Chelsea 4 Middlesbrough 0 (4-1 on aggregate)

There will be two minutes of added time at the end of this first half.


08:43 PM GMT

GOAL! Palmer adds Chelsea's fourth

This could get very ugly for Michael Carrick’s side and Chelsea are surely on their way to Wembley. Barlaser loses it right on the edge of his own box and Palmer is on hand to calmly slot it into the bottom corner.


08:41 PM GMT

40 minutes: Chelsea 3 Middlesbrough 0 (3-1 on aggregate)

Crooks is booked for what looks like a nasty challenge on Fernandez. Crooks was entitled to go for it but ended putting a poor tackle in on the Chelsea midfielder. Yellow card the right decision.


08:38 PM GMT

GOAL! Disasi makes it 3-0 on the night

Chelsea are 3-0 (3-1 on aggregate) and that feels like game, set and match. Chelsea catch Middlesbrough in possession and counter quickly from the midfield. Palmer finds Sterling on the right and he crosses for Disasi, who slots home past Glover.


08:34 PM GMT

33 minutes: Chelsea 2 Middlesbrough 0 (2-1 on aggregate)

Nearly 3-0. Fernandez comes close to getting his second of the game as he receives it centrally just inside the Middlesbrough box but his shot is straight at Glover. That should have been 3-0 and you would think that would be game over if Chelsea add another goal.


08:32 PM GMT

32 minutes: Chelsea 2 Middlesbrough 0 (2-1 on aggregate)

That Fernandez goal is surely going to have to change the way that Middlesbrough approach this now. When this second leg began, they had something to hold onto but now they are chasing the game.


08:30 PM GMT

GOAL! Fernandez adds Chelsea's second

Middlesbrough’s lead has not only been eliminated but they are now behind on aggregate. Disasi crosses from the right-hand side of the penalty area. He finds Broja, whose shot is blocked. It falls into the path of Fernandez, who has an easy finish to give Chelsea the lead on the night and on aggregate.


08:17 PM GMT

16 minutes: Chelsea 1 Middlesbrough 0 (1-1 on aggregate)

Big chance for Middlesbrough to equalise. They work a short corner routine really nicely and Rogers has it about 10 yards out. He nearly beats Petrovic at the near post but the Chelsea goalkeeper gets down to his right to make the save.


08:16 PM GMT

GOAL! Howson own goal gives Chelsea the lead

Chelsea take the lead on the night and are level on aggregate. Chilwell finds Sterling, who is onside, with a pass into the right-hand channel. He feeds it across to Broja who takes a touch and the ball then comes off Howson into his own net.


08:13 PM GMT

11 minutes: Chelsea 0 Middlesbrough 0 (0-1 on aggregate)

Chance for Chilwell. Thiago Silva lifts a ball over the top and Chilwell is onside. He gets to the ball first but his header goes wide. Chilwell is demanding a penalty as he believes he was clattered by Middlesbrough goalkeeper Glover but the referee John Brooks waves those appeals away. Remember there is no VAR tonight.

Mudryk has been booked for dissent.

Referee John Brooks shows a yellow card to Chelsea's Ukrainian forward Mykhailo Mudryk
Mykhailo Mudryk (front) is booked by referee John Brooks - Adrian Dennis/Getty Images

08:10 PM GMT

9 minutes: Chelsea 0 Middlesbrough 0 (0-1 on aggregate)

Chelsea have the first corner of the night. Mudryk plays a one-two with Fernandez and his shot from just outside the box is deflected behind. Chilwell takes but it is headed away by Clarke.


08:06 PM GMT

6 minutes: Chelsea 0 Middlesbrough 0 (0-1 on aggregate)

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick, who won this competition twice as a player with Manchester United, will be happy with how his side have started this second leg. They are compact in defence and Chelsea have been sloppy so far.

Jonny Howson has glided past both £100m men Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo on separate occasions in the first five mins ...


08:00 PM GMT

Kick-off

Stamford Bridge pays tribute before kick-off to former Chelsea forward Tommy Baldwin, who died yesterday at the age of 78.

We are under way.

A minute applause in memory of former Chelsea player Tommy Baldwin before the Carabao Cup semi final second leg match
Stamford Bridge pays tribute to former Chelsea player Tommy Baldwin - Zac Goodwin/PA

07:56 PM GMT

Kick-off fast approaching

Both sides have emerged from the tunnel at Stamford Bridge and we are just moments away from kick-off.


07:54 PM GMT

Reminder of the team news

Chelsea: Petrovic; Disasi, Thiago Silva, Colwill, Chilwell; Caicedo, Enzo; Mudryk, Palmer, Sterling; Broja

Subs: Bergstrom, Curd, Badiashile, Gilchrist, Gallagher, Chukwuemeka, Castledine, Madueke, Washington

Middlesbrough: Glover; Van den Berg, Clarke, Fry, Engel; Barlaser, Howson, Hackney; Rogers, Crooks, Forss

Subs: Jones, Gilbert, Dijksteel, McNair, Coburn, O’Brien, McCabe, Bridge, Bilongo


07:53 PM GMT

Travelling support


07:52 PM GMT

A look at Chelsea's bench

The Chelsea bench for tonight’s semi-final second leg includes two academy prospects yet to make their first team debuts. Leo Castedine is an excellent young talent who has played for England at four junior levels. His dad is Stewart, once of Wimbledon, and his mum is Lucy Alexander, the TV presenter best known for Homes under the Hammer. Goalkeeper Ted Curd is also an England junior international, and was on loan this season at Hashtag United, the Isthmian League Premier Division side whose every move is chronicled on their YouTube channel.


07:50 PM GMT

Visitors getting ready


07:49 PM GMT

Chelsea's Levi Colwill speaking to Sky Sports


07:47 PM GMT

The thoughts of Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino


07:41 PM GMT

Chelsea out to warm up


07:36 PM GMT

Middlesbrough preparing


07:33 PM GMT

Visitors arrive


07:26 PM GMT

Chilwell captains Chelsea


07:25 PM GMT

No VAR

There is no VAR tonight at Stamford Bridge and across both legs of both semi-finals. Is it a joy to see no VAR or would people prefer to see it in use? How do you think tonight will end up? Will it be Middlesbrough or Chelsea progressing through to the final? Remember you can have your say in the comments section at the bottom of the blog.


07:19 PM GMT

Fancy a bet?

Having a bet on today’s match? First take a look at these free bets and betting offers.


07:15 PM GMT

Full team news

Chelsea make two changes to the side which beat Fulham in their last match 10 days ago. Mykhailo Mudryk starts in attack, while left back Ben Chilwell returns to captain the side. Conor Gallagher drops to the bench.

Chelsea: Petrovic; Disasi, Thiago Silva, Colwill, Chilwell; Caicedo, Enzo; Mudryk, Palmer, Sterling; Broja

Subs: Bergstrom, Curd, Badiashile, Gilchrist, Gallagher, Chukwuemeka, Castledine, Madueke, Washington

Middlesbrough make four changes to the side which drew with Rotherham in the Championship on Saturday. Jonny Howson starts after recovering from a knock. Rav van den Berg, Matt Crooks and Marcus Forss also come into the starting XI.

Middlesbrough: Glover; Van den Berg, Clarke, Fry, Engel; Barlaser, Howson, Hackney; Rogers, Crooks, Forss

Subs: Jones, Gilbert, Dijksteel, McNair, Coburn, O’Brien, McCabe, Bridge, Bilongo


07:08 PM GMT

Inside the away dressing room


07:01 PM GMT

Middlesbrough team news


07:00 PM GMT

Chelsea team news


06:53 PM GMT

Home side arriving


06:46 PM GMT

A place at Wembley at stake

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino wants his team to seize the chance of reaching the final of the League Cup at Wembley. Middlesbrough take a 1-0 lead into the second leg tonight at Stamford Bridge after Hayden Hackney’s winner in the first leg at the Riverside Stadium a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s possible for us to go to the final, to visit Wembley. It’s a really important game for us and we need to show that it’s really important for us, for the club, for everyone.

“We want to be in the final but first of all we need to beat a very good team. Of course it’s going to be tough. We are confident we can have a great game in front of our fans, in Stamford Bridge with all the energy they are going to bring.

“Of course we feel very disappointed after the [first leg]. When you analyse it, you see we deserved more, but football is not about ‘deserved’, it’s about being clinical, scoring goals and defending some actions close to your goal and being strong.

“We were all disappointed, but we have 90 minutes to fix the situation and try to win the tie. We need to respect the opponent. They are going to be tough. But it’s a massive chance for us to go to the final and fight for a title.”

Middlesbrough come into tonight’s game off the back of a 1-1 draw against Rotherham, which leaves them 11th in the Championship. Their January signings Finn Azaz and Luke Ayling are cup-tied whilst Riley McGree and Sam Silvera are away on international duty with Australia.

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick says he is expecting the best version of Chelsea tonight.

“We know what we’re walking into. We got a big boost from the first game, but that’s as far as it goes. We know what we’re facing and the individual quality and a team that’s well coached and collectively very strong.

“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, but certainly from the first game and competing against Aston Villa, the boys have handled it very well and are looking forward to doing it again.”

Chelsea will be without forward Christopher Nkunku as well as Malo Gusto, Marc Cucurella, Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Romeo Lavia and Robert Sanchez.

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