Chelsea won their fifth Capital One Cup on the back of a pair of deflected goals and a strong defensive performance. As is often the case in cup finals, Jose Mourinho got his tactics spot on and the team executed to perfection on route to a comfortable win against London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.
It is the first trophy for Mourinho since returning to Chelsea in 2013, and a special win for the manager who has been very open about his love and connection with the London club. “I win but I win with my club and that means more than just win so I am very happy,” Mourinho stated post match.
With midfield stalwart Nemanja Matic out through suspension and John Obi Mikel injured, Mourinho made the decision to start 20-year-old central defender Kurt Zouma in the center of midfield alongside Ramires and Cesc Fabregas.
In the opening fifteen minutes Tottenham were able to find pockets of space between the midfield and defense, though Chelsea’s defense were quick to close down space, forcing Tottenham into a number of long-range efforts. Eleven minutes in Fabregas brought down Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen struck the crossbar with the resulting free kick.
Spurs never came closer to scoring and only managed two shots on goal for the remainder of the match. Eriksen orchestrated the few Tottenham attacks and forced Petr Cech into a save at his near post on 36 minutes. However, after the break the Chelsea midfield sat deeper and prevented Eriksen from influencing the game.
Chelsea were dangerous on the counter-attack throughout the match and caused problems in wide areas. Branislav Ivanovic won a free kick on the right, which led to the opening goal. The cross deflected off the head of Danny Rose and hit Jan Vertonghen in the chest before falling to John Terry just outside the six-yard box. Spurs were slow to react as Terry hit a deflected shot into the back of the net to put Chelsea ahead just before half time.
A familiar pairing created Chelsea’s second goal. Fabregas received the ball at the half way line and sprayed in out wide to Willian. The Spaniard then crept in behind Spurs midfield where he received the ball back from Willian. Fabregas made a quick pass to the feet of Costa who beat Kyle Walker who then deflected the cross past his own keeper.
Chelsea were disciplined and afforded Spurs little space for the remainder of the match. Harry Kane, who embarrassed the Chelsea defense on New Year’s Day, was hardly heard from. Tottenham resorted to pushing Kane out wide late in the game in order to get their top scorer on the ball, though he only managed a couple of tame crosses from that position.
It truly was a team performance in every sense of the word from Chelsea. They worked together defensively and utilized their best players in attack. Mourinho made a bold decision to play Zouma in midfield and as is often the case he was proven a genius at the final whistle.
Petr Cech – 7 – Comfortably held both shots he faced and cut out a dangerous cross in the first half but had little to do for most of the match.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 7 – Kept Andros Townsend quiet and cut out a few crosses in the last ten minutes as Spurs pushed for a late goal. Much of the focus on Azpilicueta post match will be on the lack of concussion protocol followed after Eric Dier’s knee left a gash on the back of his head.
Gary Cahill – 7 – Capped of his best performance since December with a crucial tackle on Kane in the first minute of stoppage time.
John Terry – 8 – The 34-year-old continues to show that he is still the Premier Leagues best defender. Also scored the opening goal, his sixth of the season.
Branislav Ivanovic – 7 – A hero in recent weeks, Ivanovic was quiet today by his standards. His biggest contribution was winning the free kick that led to the opening goal.
Kurt Zouma – 7 – Very composed in the center of midfield and did his job well. Plays within himself and did not try to force passes forward but rather helped Chelsea maintain possession with quick, short passes to those more adept to playing with the ball at their feet.
Ramires – 6 – Sat alongside Zouma for most of the match and failed to get himself involved in the attack.
Cesc Fabregas – 6 – Despite a quiet first-half the Spaniard came to life after the break and was integral in creating Chelsea’s second goal. A player of his ability should be influencing the match more as he so often did in the first half of the season.
Eden Hazard – 8 – A constant threat on the attack, Hazard was the outlet time and time again when Chelsea needed a few minutes of respite. Hazard was again the most fouled player on the pitch and created the space for Fabregas to move into during the move for the second goal.
Willian – 6 – If anything Willian never stops pressing and forcing poor passes from the opposition. Quiet in attack from open play but it was his cross from a set piece that led to the opening goal.
Diego Costa – 7 – A couple of spats with Walker and Dier were his only contributions in the first half. It was his brilliant first two touches and cross, which created the second goal and had some decent hold up play to help kill off the game.
Juan Cuadrado – 4 – His first involvement was promising as he won a free kick on the half way line but he failed to do much of anything else, aside from earn a yellow card, in the fifteen minutes he was on the pitch.
Oscar – N/A – came on with only a couple of minutes to go to slow the game down and waste precious seconds.
Didier Drogba – N/A – A stoppage time appearance was a perfect time for the fans to show their appreciate for a player that has dominated at Wembley over the years.