The U18 squad advanced to the quarter-final stage with a second consecutive victory via the penalty spot. Chelsea have been prone to conceding early this season, and looked very conservative during the opening 5 minutes of the contest. They had a very offensively oriented 4-3-3 from the start, but were very slow in their buildup play and seemed more focused on not making an early error than they were in finding the back of the net. They didn't concede early though, and with the way the Youth Cup has been going for them that was real progress.
After the early nerves were settled, Chelsea picked up steam and began to look lethal in the attack. John Swift was literally everywhere, and Todd Kane continued to show that he's going to be a name to follow with his marauding runs down the right. Kane and Swift would both fire good looking strikes at the West Ham keeper around the 10 minute mark and forced a pair of good saves. Shortly after those two blasts the youth would take the lead as John Swift made a deep run into the box and played the ball to an unmarked Lewis Baker who slotted home easily. Just like that it was 1-0 good guys.
The heavy pressure would continue and both Lewis Baker and Islam Feruz were denied by the woodwork. The West Ham keeper made a fantastic save to keep out a Piazon header from a perfect Kane cross, and moments later Piazon fed Amin Affane beautifully for him to just miss the gaping net. Chelsea looked like they'd be cruising on to an easy victory through the 30 minute mark.
West Ham would equalize shortly though, as Todd Kane dropped a poor clearance on the foot of Taylor Miles. Miles delivered a stunner from 25 yards out, leaving Jamal Blackman with absolutely no chance as it bent into the top right corner. Just like that it was 1-1, and Chelsea would go into the break level when they really deserved to be up by a large margin.
Chelsea came back out on the front foot with Todd Kane creating several chances from wonderful crosses. He also had a blast from about 30 yards go about a foot over the top corner, just missing a chance to give the baby blues a much deserved lead. They'd get that lead at about the 65 minute mark though as John Swift played a wonderful through ball to Islam Feruz who sped by the defense and coolly slotted one home for Chelsea. It was awfully reminiscent of one Fernando Torres in his better years. 2-1 Chelsea, and it looked like this one was put to bed.
Chelsea continued to press forward for the finisher, and on a rare foray into Chelsea territory West Ham found the equalizer yet again. Blair Turgott ran perfectly onto the ball and left Jamal Blackman without much of a chance. West Ham had three opportunities to this point, but they had found the back of the net twice.
From this point on, the game would begin to look fairly equal. Chelsea were clearly tiring, and it seemed that they had lost some of the quick movement that had let them be so comfortable on the ball. West Ham were starting to look a bit more confident as well, and in the 92nd minute they'd find the dagger. The Hammers were quick to counter after a Chelsea turnover, and leading scorer Elliot Lee found the back of the net from about 17 yards to surely put the Hammers through. A late winner..this is something CHelsea have been on the wrong end of far too often of late.
But Chelsea weren't done yet. As most of us were moping around the game thread Chelsea poured everything at the West Ham net. Islam Feruz made a perfect run and fired past the keeper to see the woodwork rob him a second time, but this time the rebound dropped perfectly for center back Nathaniel Chalobah to bury. Final kick of regulation, 3-3 heading to extra time.
The extra period was largely uneventful, but Lucas Piazon created another handful of decent chances. The kid had himself a fine game today and should really be proud. They all came to naught in the extra period though, and this one would go to penalties just as the Norwich tie did.
All of the Blues first four takers (Chalobah, Piazon, Affane, Baker) buried their chances, and with Jamal Blackman recording a save Islam Feruz stepped up with a chance for a winner. He'd sky the penalty, but Jamal Blackman would immediately respond with a second save in the shootout. Todd Kane's turn to win it, and he absolutely buried it. Chelsea win on penalties...hooray!
Up next for the young Blues will be a trip to Nottingham Forrest, the club Patrick Bamford was dominating the competition for earlier this season. As of now the tie is set for Saturday the 25th, although that could easily be changed in the coming days. Once we have confirmation we'll let you know, but for now just be satisfied with a very impressive display from the youngsters.