Chelsea came back from the brink to reach the League Cup semi-finals with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory against Newcastle after Mykhailo Mudryk’s last-gasp equaliser on Tuesday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side were joined in the semi-finals by Fulham, who beat Everton on penalties, and second-tier Middlesbrough, 3-0 winners against Port Vale.
Beaten three times in their previous five games, a wretched run that started with their 4-1 loss at Newcastle, Chelsea showed some much needed fighting spirit to win the quarter-final 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Languishing in 10th place in the Premier League, Chelsea were two minutes from being knocked out before Ukraine winger Mudryk came to the rescue with the leveller that set the stage for the Blues’ shoot-out success.
Pochettino’s only silverware as a manager is a French league title and domestic cup with Paris Saint-Germain.
Chelsea’s progress keeps the Argentine in contention for his first trophy in England after he lost the 2015 League Cup final during his time at Tottenham.
“We are so happy. The fans and the club deserve this sort of feeling. It’s a big motivation,” Pochettino said.
“We are so young. We are creating a very good bond. This type of result will help us.”
The defeat was a painful blow for Newcastle, who failed in their attempt to avenge last season’s League Cup final loss to Manchester United at Wembley.
After crashing out of the Champions League group stage, Newcastle’s exit was another setback for the Saudi-backed club in their bid to land a first major trophy since 1969.
“It hurts a lot. We defended really well but didn’t get over the line,” Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said.
“It’s a very painful moment for us. We’ll just have to accept it and digest it.”
Newcastle had been gifted the lead by Chelsea’s shambolic defending in the 16th minute.
Callum Wilson seized possession inside his own half and accelerated away from Thiago Silva as his lung-bursting run carried him into the Chelsea area.
Benoit Badiashile should have snuffed out the danger, but the defender’s woefully miscued attempt to clear allowed Wilson to fire home with ease.