Chelsea and Norwich City met in the Emirates FA Cup third round replay at Stamford Bridge 11 days after a goalless draw at Carrow Road in the original fixture.
The Blues relied on penalties to get past the Championship side after a 1-1 draw over the 90 minutes. A second-half goal from Michy Batshuayi was cancelled by an injury-time equaliser from Jamal Lewis, before the hosts were reduced to nine men during extra time. However, they progressed thanks to a 5-3 penalties victory.
A drab 45 minutes
The first match left a lot to be desired and the first half of the replay followed the same pattern, with both sides failing to inspire any excitement in the first 45 minutes. Angus Gunn was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the opening exchanges, saving from Kenedy and David Luiz inside the initial quarter of an hour. Ten minutes later, he was called into action and tipped Danny Drinkwater’s rasping drive onto the crossbar in the best chance of the first half.
Norwich had a couple of efforts on goal that nearly gave them the lead, firstly through Nelson Oliveira, whose arrowing strike clipped the bar on the way over Willy Caballero’s goal. Just a few moments later, the Portuguese striker was troubling the Premier League champions again with another shot that flashed wide. He managed to get the ball under control, turn and get a shot away under pressure from a couple of Blues defenders, a very good strike at full stretch.
Kenedy was Chelsea’s stand-out player in the first half and after nutmegging Ivo Pinto with a wonderful flip-flap, he was frustratingly barged off the ball by Harrison Reed before having a wasteful shot in the next attack. It was far from a vintage Chelsea display in the first period and they could have gone into the dressing room 1-0 down.
As was expected, the hosts came out stronger in the second-half but Norwich proved a tough nut to crack. But ten minutes after the break, the visitors came unstuck and Batshuayi, who painted a lonely figure, was on hand to break the deadlock. Kenedy was afforded too much room down the left wing and sent a very good ball across the six-yard box. Chelsea’s stand-in striker took advantage of Norwich’s lapse in concentration and flicked a great finish into the roof of the net.
While this should have sparked a comfortable remainder of the match, Josh Murphy came close for the Canaries as his bouncing effort beat Caballero but came back off the post. Then came one of the worst dives you will see this season saw Pedro rightly handed a yellow card inside the penalty area; if only red cards could be brandished for those incidents.
Drinkwater squandered a couple of chances from distance, with the first rising over and the second just slicing wide of the far post. Three 25-yard efforts were all the former Leicester midfield could muster all night in a performance he’ll want to forget in a hurry. Alvaro Morata, who certainly isn’t in the best of form, was then introduced and was instantly in the thick of the action as he flashed a header wide of the target. The Spanish striker was just a yard or so away from scoring his side’s second but the ball fizzed across the face of goal in the dying minutes.
With four minutes of injury time running out, there was time for one last chance Norwich attack and it was one that saw them force the match into extra time. Jamal Lewis was perfectly placed in the box to glance Timm Klose’s cross off the post and into the back of the net to send the away fans into pandemonium in the Shed End. This meant another 30 minutes, and possibly penalties, would be required to determine a winner.
A controversial extra half an hour
The last thing the Blues would have wanted was another 30 minutes of football, but that’s what they got, thanks to their failure to take their chances. Antonio Conte had obviously made it clear that he wanted his side to get the job done as soon as possible and Willian was denied a stonewall penalty in the first minute of extra time, without even using VAR. The Brazilian ghosted into the box and was tripped by Klose but Graham Scott signalled no penalty and booked the Chelsea winger for simulation.
It was all Chelsea for the rest of the 30 but Norwich defended resolutely to hold on by the skin of their teeth. Willian was in the thick of the action yet again, forcing a top save from Gunn before the Canaries keeper kept out Morata’s close-range chance moments later. Then the most eventful 15 minutes of extra-time ensued, which ended with Conte having just nine players to choose penalty-takers from.
Morata missed yet another shot from inside six yards with a weak header before Pedro received a second booking for a dangerous foul on Wes Hoolihan; justice after that appalling dive in the first half. A third Chelsea player then received a yellow card for a dive and this time it was Morata who went down under very little contact in the box. No sooner as he was given the first yellow, he was shown another for dissent after bellowing in the ref’s face. With the Blues down to nine, penalties were imminent.
Shootout heartache for the visitors
With very little focus during the break between extra-time and the penalties, Chelsea made no mistakes during the shootout, with Caballero the hero. Willian scored his penalty before Nelson Oliveira’s spot-kick was brilliantly saved by Chelsea’s Argentine stopper. With advantage to the hosts, David Luiz and James Maddison both scored before Cesar Azpilicueta did the same, making it 3-1 to the Blues. Mario Vrancic and N’Golo Kante also scored and Josh Murphy’s emphatic penalty hit the top corner, but Eden Hazard put an end to their hopes with a cool and confident winning penalty.
Chelsea will now face Newcastle United at home next Sunday in the FA Cup fourth round.