Yes, OK, there was drama aplenty at the end of this League Cup quarter-final at the Bridge on Wednesday night, December 20… but for the most part this was an oddly unconvincing and strange performance by a greatly changed Blues team.
With the 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu making his full debut in central defence, it was a chance to properly assess this newcomer… and he turned in a good performance after the shock of receiving a yellow card in the second minute for a scything tackle on Cherries forward Jermaine Defoe which eventually led to the striker limping off.
The first Chelsea first-team player to have been born in the 2000s, Ampadu is a laid-back, dreadlocked, languid kind of footballer; the kind whose internal clock appears to be set on ‘energy-saving’.
He enjoys pointing. Every time he gets the ball, he points. Some of his passing needs polishing up, but he seems unruffable, looks confident in possession, plays the ball solidly around the back three and has already perfected the nonchalant, moody look of a bored teenager.
But for all that, he seems a real find. And if Tony Conte and others give him the breaks and the chance to develop at a steady pace, he could have a long, illustrious future at Stamford Bridge.
A generally off-colour Willian put Chelsea ahead against Bournemouth after Cesc Fabregas had squared to him in the 13th minute.
Then the game settled into a curious, twilighty phase for an hour, when little happened except a few tetchy fouls and a string of near misses.
Right at the death, Dan Gosling levelled, and extra time loomed. But in the four minutes of stoppage time, sub Alvaro Morata – who came on in the 73rd minute for Michy Batshuayi – received a backheeled ball from Eden Hazard, and scored the decisive goal. The time between the two strikes? Under 20 seconds!
Now the Blues face Arsenal in the semis in January.