Thanks to five perfect penalties and a heroic save from the back-up goalkeeper, Chelsea are on to the fourth round of the FA Cup to play Newcastle United in 10 days.
We did have to suffer through an horrendous 210 minutes of football over the course of two games as well as two halves of extra-time against Norwich to get to this point. At least the replay had more than its fair share of incidents, if not goals, with Kenedy paying tribute to Ronaldinho, Batshuayi breaking Chelsea’s 5-hour goalless streak, and enough refereeing controversies to give Tom Henning Ovrebo a run for his money, but mercifully, we eventually arrived at the shootout and finally, Chelsea’s quality shone through.
Willian, David Luiz, and Eden Hazard scoring from the spot are not surprising. Azpilicueta and, of all players, Kanté dispatching their kicks with aplomb certainly is. Stepping up when it counts! Manchester City loanee Angus Gunn, who trained alongside Caballero at the current champions-elect last season incidentally, stood no chance on any of these.
We should mention Caballero’s excellent save as well, which set the perfect tone for Chelsea’s perfect shootout.
Here's the full sequence of penalty kicks, including Caballero's crucial save.— Chelsea GIFs (@ChelseaGIFs) January 18, 2018
Hazard: ✅#CFC pic.twitter.com/CN7A0TLEjU
It wasn’t the most attractive of ties, but single-elimination tournaments like the FA Cup are usually not beauty. The name of the game is surviving and advancing to fight another day. Mission accomplished.