Eden Hazard scored another late goal to send Chelsea into the last four of the Carabao Cup in their quarter-final against Bournemouth on Wednesday night.
The Belgian star didn’t actually start the game as Olivier Giroud was chosen in attack alongside Willian and Ruben Loftus-Cheek while Cesc Fabregas returned in midfield. Callum Wilson started for the Cherries amidst rumours linking him to Stamford Bridge.
Artur Boruc was forced into action very early in the contest as he had to be on-hand to keep out Willian twice inside six minutes with a couple of smart saves. Ross Barkley also tried his luck from range but couldn’t beat the Polish goalkeeper just minutes later. Wilson enjoyed Bournemouth’s first chance but after being played into the penalty area by Lys Mousset, he dragged his shot a long way wide.
Willian will have been kicking himself after failing to put his side in front on the half an hour mark as Loftus-Cheek picked out his lung-busting run through the middle of the park. The Brazilian forward took an uncharacteristically heavy first touch and was unable to lift the ball over the onrushing Boruc.
Kepa then had to make his first proper save of the match, denying Mousset’s powerful strike from the edge of the box after Jordon Ibe had breezed past four or five Chelsea players to tee him up. Another Willian chance was all the Blues could muster before half time as the watching fans were left baffled as to how the scoreline was still goalless.
It didn’t take long after the interval for the home side to apply the same pressure they had in the opening 45 minutes. Loftus-Cheek was yet again at the centre of the action and after some lovely footwork, he let fly from 25 yards but his left-footed strike hit the base of the post.
The intensity died down massively from there and other than Ryan Fraser flashing a half volley well over the crossbar, there was nothing to talk about for almost a quarter of the match. Hazard had been introduced from the substitutes bench with half an hour to go and he eventually made the all-important difference. After seeing a great shot kept out by Boruc, the 27-year-old broke the deadlock.
The ball squirmed around inside the Bournemouth penalty area and as it rolled into the path of Hazard, he poked it into the back of the net courtesy of a deflection off Charlie Daniels. There was still time for the Cherries’ keeper to keep them in the tie as he made very good saves from both Emerson and Giroud in the dying moments of the match but ultimately, Chelsea advanced to the last four where they have been drawn against Tottenham.