A strong Chelsea team made a strong start to the game, with three decent chances in the first few minutes alone, but it were the visitors who took the lead in one of those Magic of the Cup moments.
A lovely free kick flighted in from the left by former Chelsea youth captain Jordan Houghton was flicked on at the near post, and into the far corner of Kepa’s net.
The away end celebrated wildly, but Chelsea were back on level terms almost immediately. Unfortunately, Mateo Kovacic hit the crossbar and would also hit the post later on in the half. Hudson-Odoi also drew woodwork before Azpilicueta finally brought Chelsea level just before half with a classy backheel flick.
The second-half continued the pattern of the first, with Chelsea ratcheting up the pressure a bit more, even. Lukaku just missed a tap-in, then Azpilicueta scored an offside goal, then Havertz and Ziyech joined the missed chances party. Mount drew a wonderful save from the busy Plymouth goalkeeper, though Kepa was also called into action at the other end, making a good save 1-v-1 to keep things level.
Chelsea were unable to find a breakthrough in regulation, and we went into extra-time, which followed pretty much the same script as the previous 90 minutes. And eventually, all of Chelsea’s pressure paid off, with Havertz and Alonso combining wonderfully to take the lead for the first time all game.
There was still time for drama at the end, with Chelsea giving away a silly penalty, but that just gave Kepa a chance to be the hero, which he duly took, making the (almost expected) save on the spot kick ... to prevent the game from going to spot kicks.
Close on the scoreboard, but nowhere else.
- Tuchel staying at home but also staying with the back-four, let’s call it a 4-1-4-1 with Jorginho sitting.
- Just one change from the Spurs game from before the break, Christensen replacing Thiago Silva. Christensen then withdrawn at half-time for Alonso.
- 3-4-3 for the final few minutes, with Chalobah-Toni-Sarr across the back and Alonso and Ziyech the wing-backs.
- Whoever the color commentator was on my feed, everything was a “Cruyff-something” for him, which was hilarious. Cruyffpilicueta with all the Cruyff-flicks!
- Mount appeared to have tweaked something on his shot in extra-time; hopefully it’s nothing to be concerned about
- Chelsea with 35 shots (9 on target) in regulation. Another half-dozen or so in extra-time.
- The draw for the fifth round is tomorrow (Sunday)
- Next up: the Club World Cup, Wednesday and Saturday! The squad fly out tonight; Tuchel expected to join later this week after his 5-day isolation period.