Reece James scored his side’s fifth and final spot-kick in a nail-biting penalty shootout after the score ended 1-1 after 90 minutes against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge tonight.
The Blues move into the fourth round of the League Cup where they will face Southampton at the Bridge, after Timo Werner’s headed opener was matched by a better header by Cameron Archer.
Both sides had chances to win the game, but Steer and Kepa in fine form.
But ultimately it was down to who would hold their nerves better and slot the ball home.
With Chelsea faultless up to their fourth kick, Chilwell rattling the crossbar – it was left to James to crash the west Londoners into the next round – winning the shootout 4-3.
Despite Chelsea’s dominance of possession, Villa were sharp on the counter-attack. On nine minutes, striker Cameron Archer found himself, clear running to the edge of the Chelsea penalty area.
However, the hit man tried a delicate chip over the advancing Kepa, but overhit the ball and it inched over the crossbar.
With a host of changes from Sunday’s Premier League game against Spurs, the home side naturally found it difficult to get into a cohesive rhythm.
Saul had the first reasonable effort for the Blues on 23 minutes. Some well-worked play saw N’Golo Kante send a across a ball from the right. Saul met it with a glancing header, but headed wide of Jed Steer’s right post.
Ben Chilwell almost crashed the ball into his own net following a quick free-kick, but the call inched away fo a corner.
The first shot on target, for the home side, came on 38 minutes – Hakim Ziyech tried a turn and shot that Steer did well to smother.
Seconds before half-time, Villa had two chances to score. The first effort fell to Archer, but this time Kepa was on hand to block the shot – it rebounded to Anwar El Ghazi, but his shot was hacked off the line by Reece James.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel decided to replace kante at half-time – Mason Mont took his place.
With Manchester City at the Bridge, in the league, on Saturday, it was probably jut a precaution and not an injury.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, quiet in the fist half, broke sweat as he raced onto the penalty area. His low right-footer, from an angle was well grasped by Steer.
But this towed the attacking intent of the Blurs and on 55 minutes, a wonderful clipped cross by James was met on the head by an unmarked Timo Werner, who promptly nodded home past Steer to open the night’s scoring.
He should have doubled the score, two minutes later, but his low toe poke, went wide of the goal.
Ziyech was next up to shoot, Steer did well to parry the effort away.
Bertrand Traore, had a week effort easily snaffled by Kepa as Villa went on a rare expedition into the home side’s half.With PrinceWilliam watching from the not cheap seats, Villa equalised with a spectacle header from Cameron Archer, who directed a cross well past Kepa on 66 minutes.
El Ghazi then had a snatch shot well held by Kepa as the game swung the visitors way in a blink of the eye.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Tuchel decided to bring on Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley as he went for a win.
Off came Saul and Ziyech.
Barkley, who was on loan at Villa last season forced Steer into a smart save as he tipped the midfielder’s rasper over the crossbar on 80 minutes.
But neither side could find the decisive breakthrough and the match headed directly to penalties.
Villa were first up
El Ghazi – scores 1-0
Lukaku – scores 1-1
Young – hits crossbar 1-1
Mount – scores 2-1
Nakamba – saved by Kepa 2-1
Barkley – scores 3-1
Konsa – scores 3-2
Chilwell – hits crossbar 3-2
Buendia – scores 3-3
James – scores 4-3
Teams: Chelsea Kepa, Kante, Werner, Loftus-Cheek, Chalobah, Saul, Hudson-Odoi, Chilwell, Ziyech, James, Sarr.
Subs: Silva, Lukaku, Bettinelli, Mount, Havertz , Barkley, Mbuyamba
Aston Villa: Steer, Cash,Samson, Buendia, Traore, Tuanzebe, Young, Nakamba, El Ghazi, Hause, Archer
Subs: Sinisalo, Konsa, Philogene-Bidace, Carney Chukwuemeka, Bogarde, Ramsey, Caleb Chukwuemeka
Referee: Graham Scott