Chelsea took a big step towards Wembley by beating Tottenham 2-0 in the first leg of the Carabao Cup.
Kai Havertz scored early for the Blues and an own goal from Ben Davies doubled their lead when Antonio Conte was beaten on his return to Stamford Bridge.
The Spurs now face an uphill battle to overturn the deficit at home in the second leg next Wednesday, while Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel will feel extremely confident of reaching the final of a competition they last won in 2015.
- The big news for Chelsea was that Romelu Lukaku has started following the controversy surrounding his interview and dropping out for the Premier League clash against Liverpool over the weekend.
- Tottenham boss Antonio Conte named a strong side, only slightly tweaking his defense with two changes when Japhet Tanganga and Matt Doherty joined.
Tuchel overtakes Conte on his return to Bridge
Thomas Tuchel made the surprising decision to move to a back four and led to absolute domination by Chelsea in the first half. They earned the two-goal lead at half-time, but from Tottenham’s point of view, both goals were entirely avoidable.
Japhet Tanganga, one of Conte’s changes, was largely responsible for both. After five minutes his pass sadly sold out to Emerson Royal, allowing Marcos Alonso to step in and serve the ball to Havertz, who fired in the opening.
Then, after 34 minutes, Tanganga failed to adequately handle Hakim Ziyech’s incoming free-kick, header Davies who flew away from him and passed the helpless Hugo Lloris.
It showed how Chelsea were in control in the first half that Conte, also a master of five-man defense, switched Spurs to a back four to try and match Tuchel’s system.
But he didn’t do much for the model process, and Chelsea still remained in office. In the 66th minute he should have overtaken Tottenham with a splendid pass from Hakim Ziyech who finds the escape behind substitute Timo Werner, but his clever attempt fails to beat Hugo Lloris.
And Conte seemed to accept their fate in the first leg, withdrawing Heung-Min Son and late Lucas Moura, preserving his legs for the future challenge.
Man of the match: Hakim Ziyech
Andy Hinchcliffe of Sky Sports at Stamford Bridge:
“Hakim Ziyech is my best on the field. It was a very lively performance. He was impressive, wide on the right and deflected onto the field when he took the ball.”
The Moroccan would also have provided one of the assists of the season with a sensational pass for Werner in the middle of the second half. Unfortunately for him, his teammate couldn’t take the risk.
Carabao Cup program
Both teams start their FA Cup campaigns on the weekend in the third round. Chelsea will host Chesterfield out of the League on Saturday (17:30), while Tottenham will welcome Morecambe from League One on Sunday (14:00)