CHELSEA defied jet lag and a Championship side with a point to prove as they overturned a one-goal deficit with a five-goal second-half show to beat Leeds and reach the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup and a tie against Swansea.
Leeds United: Becchio (37); Chelsea: Mata (47), Ivanovic (64), Moses (66), Hazard (81), Torres (84)
Three days after losing the Club World Cup final in Japan, the last thing a Rafael Benitez team sporting just four changes could have done with was a trip to a rain-soaked Elland Road to meet a team with whom they share a bitter rivalry.
The omens were not looking good either when Luciano Becchio gave Leeds a first-half lead but, as if they had never been away, Chelsea ramped things up after the break. Three goals in a 20-minute spell from Juan Mata, Branislav Ivanovic and Victor Moses spun things in their favour, with Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres adding extra gloss late on.
On the balance of play it was the least the European champions deserved, with Benitez’s men at least proving they have still got what it takes on home soil following their disappointing loss to Corinthians on Sunday and their Champions League exit.
Frank Lampard revealed a dressing-room discussion at half-time sparked Chelsea’s revival. “We upped it,” he said. “In the first half we weren’t at our best, a bit slow with the tempo of the game and we gave a away silly goal that allowed them to score. Once we upped it with a bit of pace in our game you could see a big difference. We had a word with ourselves at half-time.”
The Leeds goal came on the counter attack in the 37th minute. After Luiz made a hash of a foray forward, Michael Tonge picked the ball up in centre midfield and ran into Chelsea’s half, releasing Jerome Thomas on the left.
With Becchio clear and screaming for a pass, Thomas waited until the right moment and squared, with the Argentine wrong-footing Petr Cech with his 15th goal of the season.
The goal had perhaps been harsh on Chelsea but they duly levelled things up 62 seconds after the restart, with Mata’s crisp, first-time hit from Moses’ lay-off getting under Ashdown’s outstretched hands and making a mockery of the better saves he had already made.
The former Portsmouth man went some way to redeeming himself as the hour approached, using all of his body to deny Torres and then Lampard, but he could do nothing in the 64th minute as Ivanovic nipped in ahead of everyone at the near post to nod in a Lampard corner.
Moses then found the range he had lacked in the first half with a low edge-of-the-box shot which Ashdown got nowhere near and, if Leeds thought their punishment was over they were wrong as, with ten minutes left, Luiz split their defence in half and Hazard easily tucked away a one-on-one.
There was still time for more, perhaps flatteringly, as Torres tucked into an open goal with seven minutes left from Hazard’s pass after Ashdown had denied Lampard. Chelsea will now look to reach the Wembley final and play the winners of the Bradford-Aston Villa semi-final.
Referee: A Marriner
Leeds United: Ashdown, Byram, Lees, Pearce, Peltier, Green, Brown (Norris 72), Tonge, Thomas (White 68), Diouf (McCormack 72), Becchio. Subs not used: Kenny, Varney, Gray, Somma.
Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Bertrand (Cole 74), Lampard, Oscar, Marin (Hazard 60), Mata (Ferreira 85), Moses, Torres. Subs not used: Turnbull, Piazon, Saville, Ake.