Chelsea 4 City 3
6,500 City fans made the trip south to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night and witnessed a fantastic cup tie against a Chelsea side that had gone 68 games unbeaten at home.
Fans who have witnessed some of City’s home performances this season would have given them little chance of being the team to end that run, or indeed get on the scoresheet given the defensive record of the home side. However away performances have this season provided the only respite from some very poor home games, particularly in the previous round against Aston Villa.
The City fans filled the shed end and before the game generated a great atmosphere. Little was heard from the Chelsea fans, and all were hoping that the team would show the passion that their support deserved.
The caretaker management team of Gerry Taggart and Frank Burrows opted to stick with the 5-3-2 formation that has served City well defensively over the last few games, and brought Darren Kenton into the side in the centre of midfield alongside Newton and Chambers. With six recognised defenders on the pitch City’s attacking options looked limited and with no team having scored more than a single goal at Stamford Bridge since Birmingham City on 12th August the prospect of a Leicester goal fest seemed unlikely.
It was City though who shocked Chelsea by taking the lead inside the first ten minutes. From a free kick on the left hand side of the area Newton played a neat ball to Fryatt who crossed for the unmarked Gareth McAuley to power a header past Cudicini and give Leicester a dream start….
McAuley nets early lead (pics courtesl of Raymonds/LCFC)
Chelsea fielded a strong looking side although Avram Grant had made a number of changes to the side that thrashed Manchester City 6-0 the previous weekend. With Lampard and Sidwell in the centre of midfield, Wright-Phillips and the debutant Sinclair on the wings and the ominous figure of Andriy Shevchenko alongside Pizarro up front City’s defenders always looked to have their work cut out. They did well enough for ten minutes or so following the goal however it didn’t take Chelsea long to reply.
After successfully clearing a number of balls in to the area the City defence were beaten by a trademark late run into the area from Lampard, who got on the end of a clever header from Sinclair and drove the ball past Fulop to equalise after 20 minutes.
City competed well in midfield with Chambers and Kenton working hard to deny Chelsea space and time on the ball. A big improvement on recent games was in the shape of forward runs from Stearman and Sheehan who joined the attack sparingly but in telling fashion.
After 26 minutes Shevchenko took the ball around Fulop after he failed to get to McAuley’s back pass but Kisnorbo was in position to clear off the line. N’Gotty did well to get to a Sinclair cross four minutes later however his clearance again fell to the feet of Lampard who made no mistake from ten yards to make it 2-1.
Fryatt had a couple of chances at the other end but was denied by Cudicini and the game went into half time with Chelsea a goal ahead.
The Chelsea fans were quiet in the face of the massive City support who were hoping their side could stay in the game. It looked like a different team from that which has turned out recently, particularly at home, with energy, enthusiasm and passion to their play which has been lacking for some time at the Walkers stadium.
Chelsea pushed forward at the beginning of the second half after some early pressure from City had ended with a Fryatt shot which went just wide. Fulop made a series of great saves to keep City in the game foiling Pizzaro, Sinclair and Pizzaro again in spectacular fashion.
DJ Campbell replaced Fryatt after 62 minutes with Porter having come on for Newton minutes earlier. The two substitutes combined on 70 minutes to deservedly put Leicester back on level terms, Campbell sending a looping header over Cudicini from Porter’s through ball to send the City fans wild.
The party continued three minutes later when Sheehan sent in a free kick and Carl Cort found himself unmarked on the edge of the six yard box and thumped the ball into the net first time to put City into the lead.
Unbelievable it may have been but City were ahead with fifteen minutes to go. This was probably about ten minutes too long for the team to hold out against the quality of Chelsea’s forward play.
The big guns were introduced on 80 minutes as Grant went in search of an equaliser, Essien and Kalou coming on for Ben Haim and Sinclair. Shevchenko went unpunished for what looked like a bad challenge on Porter, who had to be replaced by Maybury.
The pressure on the City defence was now massive as Chelsea’s millionaires pushed forward to save the game and it proved too much for them to handle. With only three minutes remaining Shevchenko proved his pedigree with a fantastic finish from just inside the area which Fulop could get nowhere near.
Extra time was on the cards as the clock ticked down but deep into injury time Lampard scrambled the ball over the line to win the game for the home side and claim his hat trick.
City scored three goals at Stamford Bridge and matched the star studded hosts for much of the game which was a great achievement. If they can overcome their nerves at home and combine the same energy and commitment shown here with some more attacking flair few teams in the Championship will be able to live with them. That is the challenge that awaits Mandaric’s next managerial choice.
City: Fulop (8), Kisnorbo (8), McAuley (8), N’Gotty (7), Stearman (7), Chambers (6), Kenton (7), Newton (7), Sheehan (7), Fryatt (8), Cort (7). Subs: Porter (60 for Newton) (8), Maybury (81 for Porter) (6), Campbell (62 for Fryatt) (9), Henderson, Hellings
Chelsea: Cudicini, Shevchenko, Lampard, Sidwell, Pizarro, Sinclair, Ferreira, Ben Haim, Wright-Phillips, Alex, Belletti. Subs: Malouda (52 for Ferreira), Kalou (80 for Sinclair), Essien (80 for Ben Haim), Hilario, Mikel
Attendance: 40,037 Referee: P Dowd (Staffs)
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation