Álvaro Morata’s goal in added time of the second half broke Bournemouth hearts as Chelsea stumbled away with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
After a Willian goal in the first half, Bournemouth piled on the pressure and forced the Blues to turtle in their own half. Their pressing and chance creation finally culminated in Dan Gosling’s equalizer in the 90th minute. Extra time was not meant to be as Chelsea score the winner only a minute later.
Chelsea move on to the semifinals of the Carabao Cup to face Arsenal, with the first leg being played at Stamford Bridge. Manchester City will take on Bristol City after their upset over title-holders Manchester United.
Here are five things we learned from Chelsea’s win over Bournemouth.
Chelsea sputter in second half
The Blues didn’t record a shot in the second half until the 77th minute. Let that sink in a bit.
The favourites held the lead after halftime, but struggled to gain possession of the ball. When they did, they promptly lost it to quick pressing Bournemouth players, usually around the centre of the pitch.
Chelsea couldn’t even attempt one of their signature counter attacks, even with Eden Hazard and Morata introduced to the game. The Blues needed a player like N’Golo Kanté to control the midfield.
Credit should go to Bournemouth for pinning the home side so far back and making them look like the team defending for their lives. There didn’t seem to be an answer to the Chelsea problems except hope they make a mistake. Fortunately for them, Bournemouth made a crucial error, and Chelsea are lucky to come away with a win after a dreadful second half.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth bites back in last 45
I wonder what Eddie Howe said to his team during halftime to get such a performance out of his side in the second half.
Bournemouth had nothing to show for in the first half, but they came out with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove in the second. They didn’t back down to a top side in the Premier League, even though they trailed by one.
The Cherries had 57% possession of the ball in the second half, completing more passes than the West London side. Bournemouth had nine shots in the second half, and Chelsea only attempted two. Granted, all but one were off target, but that one shot was Gosling’s inevitable goal after mounting tons of pressure throughout the half.
Bournemouth need to be finishing those chances to win. Momentum clearly swung to them as the match went on. Jermain Defoe’s injury and early substitution didn’t help, but their inability to hit the target prevented them from moving on in the League Cup.
Chelsea catch Cherries celebrating
Before the broadcast could even return to the game after a replay of Gosling’s goal and celebration, Morata had already received Hazard’s backheel pass to casually put it into the net.
I was mentally preparing myself for another half hour of football, dreading the fatigue of Chelsea players who are already playing in a packed schedule. Thankfully, the home team didn’t give up like I did.
Perhaps this was the first time in the second half for Chelsea where there was space in between the lines. The game opened up more once Bournemouth scored, and they went back to their original formation at kickoff. In a split second, Chelsea were able to pick out the right passes–from Fàbregas, to Rüdiger, to Zappacosta, to Morata, to Hazard, and back to Morata–to save the day.
Bournemouth really deserved to celebrate that goal after such a performance, but you need to play to your fullest until the final whistle blows. Chelsea capitalized on such a moment and made the Cherries pay.
Ampadu finishes strongly against top flight
🔵 Ethan Ampadu (17) vs AFC Bournemouth:
5/6 long balls
1/3 aerial duels
So composed, so mature. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/upinXExdDj
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) December 20, 2017
Keep in mind that Ethan Ampadu is 17-years old, and started against top flight opposition.
Throughout the season, the stories have all been about Andreas Christensen taking his chance and running with it, earning a starting defender spot with the first team. A lot of talk has been about his calmness on the ball to go along with his dependable defending.
Who knew that Chelsea would have another youngster delivering those qualities? Of course, the academy knew when they developed such a player.
Ampadu showed a level of composure seen in veterans of the Premier League. While his first tackle on Defoe injured the striker and earned him a yellow card, he showed no fear in getting physical with players a decade older than him.
Playing time is rare for Ampadu with so many teammates higher than him in the depth chart, but Antonio Conte should surely be taking a closer look at the 17-year-old’s future with Chelsea after tonight’s performance.
Blues’ inability to kill games kills chances for youngsters
Despite Ampadu starting and shining brightly tonight, three Chelsea youngsters were left on the bench.
Chelsea’s lack of finishing has allowed teams to continue to have a fighting chance throughout the 90 minutes. They’ve been winning, but it has generally been close matches.
The inability to land the final dagger led to Jake Clarke-Salter, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Dujon Sterling to stay on the bench while Hazard, Morata, and Bakayoko were introduced in desperation to hit the finishing blow.
Conte’s substitutions were the right choice in the end, but valuable minutes could have been given to the academy graduates had Chelsea been able to finish the match a lot earlier. Their chance at first-team football, even if just a few minutes, might not happen this season.