Chelsea will play Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final after overcoming an aggregate deficit to beat Tottenham on penalties at Stamford Bridge.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Chelsea made a bright start and got their reward when a corner was cleared only as far as N'Golo Kante, whose daisy-cutter deflected off two Tottenham players, wrong-footing Paulo Gazzaniga and ending up in the back of the net.
With Tottenham looking ragged in all departments, Chelsea took full advantage with a well-worked goal to take the aggregate lead. Cesar Azpilicueta laid the ball on a plate for Eden Hazard, who simply passed the ball into the corner of Gazzaniga's net.
Mauricio Pochettino's half time team talk had an almost immediate impact as Tottenham restored aggregate parity within five minutes of the restart. Danny Rose's cross was in a good area for Fernando Llorente, who stooped to head the ball into the net.
It was a much more even match thereafter, although the best chances were still falling to Chelsea. Olivier Giroud raced through on goal but fluffed his lines, and Hazard missed a couple of chances to get his second of the day, so it went to penalties.
Both teams scored their first two penalties before Tottenham's Eric Dier blazed the ball over the crossbar and Jorginho gave Chelsea the advantage. Kepa's save from Lucas Moura gave the Blues match point, and David Luiz made no mistake, sending Chelsea to Wembley.
Key Talking Points
Whether Chelsea's players were responding to Maurizio Sarri's stinging criticism after their defeat at Arsenal, or whether they were simply raising their game for a big semi-final, we don't know. But in the first half they produced exactly the kind of performance Sarri wanted to see.
He questioned his players' mentality and motivation after that meek loss at the Emirates Stadium, but it was a completely different team which took to the field against Spurs. While Tottenham wilted under the pressure, Chelsea rose to the occasion, as they so often do in the cup competitions.
In a way, Chelsea's performance proved Sarri's criticism right. This squad has always had the ability to produce brilliant performances, it is only their ability to do so on a regular basis which is in question. They must be at their very best to stand any chance against Manchester City in the final.
STAR MAN - N'Golo Kante
Obviously you could make a strong case for Hazard, but it was Kante who set the tempo with a dominant performance. He made Tottenham's midfielders look like schoolboys in the first half, and it was his goal which set Chelsea on their way.
N'Golo Kante just nutmegged 3 people with one shot, and scored.— Paddy Power (@paddypower) January 24, 2019
Give the man the Ballon d'Or FFS.
I’ll say it again about Kanté...— Alex Goldberg (@AlexGoldberg_) January 24, 2019
He’s Chelsea’s best scoring midfielder right now. Miles ahead of Kova & Jorginho in that category and is hitting it WAY cleaner than Barkley these days.
4 - N’Golo Kante has scored four goals in 30 apps for Chelsea in all competitions this season – as many as he netted in his previous three seasons in England combined (4 in 129 apps). Upturn.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 24, 2019
WORST PLAYER - Olivier Giroud
With three talismanic forward players missing - Harry Kane and Dele Alli injured, Son Heung-min at the Asian Cup - Tottenham's night was always going to be about keeping it tight and taking their chances on the counter-attack.
But the absence of those three players seemed to have had an effect on the whole team, at least in the first half. Tottenham were overrun in midfield, with Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko and Dier all struggling against Chelsea's faster, stronger central trio.
STAR MAN - Danny Rose
Brought on as a first-half replacement for Ben Davies, Rose was a constant nuisance for Chelsea. He produced the cross from which Llorente scored, and continued to cause Azpilicueta problems, with the Spaniard going in the book for taking out his opponent.
Baffles me how Davies has been Tottenham’s first choice left back for a while, for me Danny rose is one of the best left backs in the world— Charlie Gleisinger (@Gleisinger) January 24, 2019
Danny rose yet again was brilliant— Dazza (@DazJudge1) January 24, 2019