Chelsea and Fulham made history by reaching the semi-finals of the League Cup on Tuesday when they followed up 1-1 draws with penalty-shootout wins over Newcastle United and Everton, respectively. The west London rivals are through to the last four of England’s oldest knockout competition, with Middlesbrough also making the last eight.
Substitute Mykhailo Mudryk kept Chelsea alive with a 92nd-minute equalizer against Newcastle, which set up a thrilling shootout win that saw the Blues triumph 4-2 on penalties at Stamford Bridge. The result means Mauricio Pochettino will now seek his first trophy as Chelsea manager, taking them into the final four of this season’s competition.
Callum Wilson’s horror defensive error at Goodison Park gave substitute Beto the chance to level the game for Everton in stoppage time. But the Cottagers, who had led through a Michael Keane own goal early on, won a dramatic seventh-round replay 7-6 on penalties after an enthralling tie. Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo then won his club’s first-ever penalty shootout.
The drama of the shootouts has added extra intrigue to a competition that sees Premier League clubs competing with each other for the final place in the semi-finals. The semi-final draw will be on Wednesday, following the Liverpool vs. West Ham quarterfinal match, with the final taking place at Wembley on February 25.
Despite being 10th in the Premier League and without a major trophy since the 1950s, a successful run in the competition could be the turning point for Chelsea and Fulham. For the former, a triumph in the League Cup would mark a significant milestone in their attempt to win their first major trophy under Pochettino.
For the latter, it would be a massive boost to their hopes of reaching the top six in the race for Champions League qualification next year. And a trip to Wembley would be the ideal send-off for their long-serving captain, John Terry, who will retire at the end of the season.
Middlesbrough also won a seventh-round replay against League One side Port Vale, winning 7-6 on penalties after the match ended in a 3-3 draw. Despite being the only non-Premier League team remaining in the competition, Boro’s success will add to the underdog narrative that has accompanied their progress.
The only other quarterfinal to take place on Tuesday was at Anfield, where Liverpool beat West Ham 2-1 to progress and book their spot in the last four. The other semi-final will feature Manchester City versus Tottenham Hotspur. The winner of that match will also qualify for the Fifa revamped Club World Cup planned for 2025.