Blues bite back twice before finding the winner as they edge past Luton in a five-goal thriller.
Written by Yendi (@ftblYendi).
Edited by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).
After suffering heartbreak in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, Chelsea had the chance to edge their way closer to a Wembley return by beating Luton in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The Blues, who have already won two pieces of silverware this season, look to add to their ever-growing trophy cabinet by adding a ninth FA Cup. With still so much to play this season, each game arrives to the European Champions with a growing level of importance.
Although Chelsea beat the Hatters last year in Frank Lampard’s final game as manager, the London club could not underestimate their opponents who currently sit 6th in the Championship.
The game got off to an electric start at Kenilworth Road. After merely 104 secondsof action, Luton found themselves 1-0 up against the Champions of Europe.
A corner from Luke Berry found Reece Burke at the near post, who headed past Kepa Arrizabalaga to give the underdog leaders an unlikely lead.
In attempt to find the team’s feet in a fast start that blew past the Blues, Saúl played an early ball in towards out-of-form Romelu Lukaku. Goalkeeper Jed Steer anticipated the run, however pulled up short after suffering an injury to his achilles. Reserve goalkeeper Harry Isted was called into action, in what was only his third ever appearance for the club.
Isted’s first duty was to collect a tame Saúl header from a Mason Mount cross. Following this, Timo Werner received the ball from Mount on the edge of the box and dribbled inwards in attempt to find an angle for the shot. Chelsea’s persistence eventually paid off on the 27th minute, as Saúl walked onto a loose dribble and slotted calmly past Isted for the equaliser.
Chelsea began to lay siege on the Luton goal, bombarding Isted with a flurry of shots. The young keeper was equal to efforts from Kenedy, Lukaku and Saúl, with each of the three being impressive saves.
Against the run of play, Luton entered the break 2-1 up as Carlos Mendes found Harry Cornick with a ball over the top. The Luton striker was able to slot coolly past the onrushing Kepa, with the Hatters now 45 minutes away from an FA Cup quarter-final.
Having been stung by a valiant Luton side in the first half, Chelsea came back a team far better adjusted and held a monopoly on proceedings in the second half.
Following an initial 25 minutes of onslaught, Ruben Loftus-Cheek found Timo Werner in the box from deep, with Werner controlling and finishing superbly to equalise.
In a show of dominance, the Blues went on to add another 10 minutes later. Fantastic movement from substitute Christian Pulisic opened up space for Werner again in the box, who slid the ball across the six-yard box with Lukaku easily tapping in at the back post.
Capping off a much improved second half displace, Chelsea controlled possession for the final 10 minutes and drained Luton of their first-half potency and exuberance.
After the Whistle:
A hard fought yet rewarding win for the European champions, who had to work hard to book their place in the last eight of the FA Cup.
The triumph sees the Blues enter the quarter-finals for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Not to mention that Thomas Tuchel and co will feel they have unfinished business in the competition, after suffering defeat to Leicester in last year’s final.
Though it is not a complete replacement for losing the League Cup final to Liverpool, the result should give the squad some confidence with determination to kick on and try compete for the rest of the season. Stellar performances from Saúl Ñíguez and Timo Werner will be important for the respective players confidence, and Romelu Lukaku showing good movement to score the winner might give Thomas Tuchel ideas about how best to deploy him.
Following Thursday’s draw, Chelsea will travel to Middlesbrough for their quarter-final tie, which is set to take place between March 18th - 21st.
Luton Town 2-3 Chelsea.
- Reece Burke (2’).
- Saúl Ñíguez (27’).
- Harry Cormick (40’).
- Timo Werner (68’).
- Romelu Lukaku (78’).
BBC Sports Player of the Match:
Harry Isted (Luton Town).
Luton Town (3-5-2): Steer (14’); Burke, Lockyer, Potts; Kioso, Gomes (76’), Osho, Berry (63’), Bell; Cornick (62’), Muskwe (76’).
- Subs: Isted (14’), Jerome (62’), Campbell (63’), Hylton (76’), Snodgrass (76’).
Chelsea (3-4-3): Arrizabalaga; Rüdiger, Loftus-Cheek, Sarr; Hudson-Odoi (62’), Jorginho (76’), Saúl, Kenedy (61’); Mount, Lukaku, Werner.
- Subs: Pulisic (61’), Vale (62’), James (76’).
Luton Town (24%) vs Chelsea (75%).
Luton Town (5) vs Chelsea (17).
Shots on Target:
Luton Town (3) vs Chelsea (9).
Luton Town (3) vs Chelsea (8).
Luton Town (10) vs Chelsea (10).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | The Emirates FA Cup).