Carabao Cup 2023-24: Heavyweights Chelsea Lose Semi-Final 1st Leg To Championship Side Middlesbrough

Chelsea Lost To Middlesbrough In Carabao Cup
Chelsea Lost To Middlesbrough In Carabao Cup

Premier League giants Chelsea traveled to the Riverside Stadium for their Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg meeting with Championship outfit Middlesbrough on Tuesday night (January 9). Mauricio Pochettino fielded a strong XI to take control of the tie, but the hosts refused to comply. Producing a spirited performance in front of their exuberant fans, Boro bagged a slender 1-0 victory over the west London outfit.

Hayden Hackney scored the only goal of the game in the 37th minute, opening his body to poke Isaiah Jones’ cutback beyond Chelsea goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic.

Cole Calmer Endures A Night To Forget As Chelsea Rue Wasted Chances

The Blues started the game brightly, creating their first goalscoring opportunity in the fifth minute, as Noni Madueke found Cole Palmer just outside the box. The former Manchester City man had a go at goal from range but hit it straight at the goalkeeper, allowing Thomas Glover to make an easy save.

In the 31st minute, Palmer intercepted a wayward backpass from Jonathan Howson in the final third of the pitch. The Englishman set himself up for the shot but ended up dragging it wide of the near post. The 21-year-old got two more excellent chances to score after Middlesbrough put themselves in front, with both opportunities coming in first-half injury time.

Three minutes into stoppage time, Enzo Fernandez attempted to beat the goalkeeper from a curler from outside the box. Glover failed to collect the ball, giving it straight to Palmer, who was just yards away from the goal line. Luckily for the hosts, the attacker failed to make the right connection with the ball and somehow sent it well over the bar.

A couple of minutes later, Palmer had another glorious opportunity to find the back of the net as Moises Caicedo found him with a through ball inside the box. The attacker opened up a great angle to shoot by dropping his shoulder but failed to find the back of the net, dispatching a tame effort straight at the goalkeeper.

Chelsea created a few more chances in the second half but failed to apply the all-important finish. The visitors ended the game with 18 shots, four big chances created, and an xG of 2.17. Middlesbrough, meanwhile had six shots, created one big chance, and finished with an xG of 0.94.

Boro Showed Their Fighting Spirit In Win Over Blues

Chelsea were unimaginably wasteful against on Tuesday night, but it should not take anything away from the gallant performance Middlesbrough produced in front of their fans. Boro came into the game in near-depleted shape, not having the services of 12 first-team players. They also lost center-forward Emmanuel Latte and left wing-back Alex Bangura to injuries within 20 minutes of the game. Despite facing such hardships, Middlesbrough refused to throw in the towel and looked to hurt Chelsea every chance they got.

The return leg at Stamford Bridge, which will take place on January 23, will demand more out of them, as Chelsea will be desperate to turn it around. However, if the 2003-04 Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) winners can maintain their shape and play to their strengths, they could very well progress to the final.

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