Chelsea are through, but that’s not all that matters after a controversial game that threatened to boil over. Jamal Lewis’s last-minute header took the tie to extra time after Michy Batshuayi had put the Blues in front. The controversial moments came in extra time with penalty appeals aplenty and the game ended with just nine players to take penalties but the hosts prevailed to make it through to the FA Cup fourth round.
An uneventful first half culminated with Nelson Oliveira hitting a sweet strike that bounced off the top of the crossbar after Michy Batshuayi had gifted the ball to him on the edge of the Chelsea area. Before that, the Blues had dominated the play and could’ve gone ahead when Cesar Azpilicueta almost latched onto David Luiz’s knockdown from a corner. Danny Drinkwater then hit the bar with a shot from distance that needed saving from Angus Gunn and, like the rest of the game, the goalkeeper produced a fine save to prevent one of the goals of the round. The match was a mirror image of the original tie with Chelsea controlling the game but creating very little.
The game continued that way after the break with Pedro picking up a booking for a clear dive after rounding Gunn in the penalty area. Ethan Ampadu, who started on the right of the back three, was looking assured with and without the ball and looked like he’d been playing senior football for years. Batshuayi was a man devoid of confidence and was being contained until he found space in the penalty area to convert Kennedy’s cross from the left and his goal drought, that stretched back to last October, was over.
The game, after that opening goal, seemed to be over as well but Norwich fought back and created chances of their own, hitting the post after pinball in the Chelsea area. Then they got their deserved equaliser when Timm Klose’s cross found young Jamal Lewis who expertly guided his header in off the far post and bedlam ensued in the away end. There was just enough time left for Chelsea to take kick off before Graham Scott blew for the end of normal time and a very tired Chelsea team were forced into extra time. Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kante we’re joined by Eden Hazard after Antonio Conte was allowed a fourth substitute in extra time as the Blues looked to kill Norwich off in the added half hour.
Then VAR took centre stage. Willian skipped past a couple of defenders and into the Norwich penalty box before being brought down by Timm Klose. Instead of giving the penalty, the referee booked the Brazilian for diving but surely he could’ve reviewed his decision with VAR? Whether he did confer with VAR or not, it was a farce and the situation wasn’t resolved at all. Pedro brought down Wes Hoolahan in midfield and picked up his second yellow card and was therefore sent off.
Alvaro Morata picked up two bookings in as many seconds after going down easily in the box before berated Graham Scott for his decision to book the striker. Morata was given his marching orders and Chelsea were down to nine men. The clock ticked into the final minutes with a depleted Chelsea team simply seeing out the game in the hope of winning on penalties – and that’s just what they did. Willy Caballero saved from Nelson Oliveira and Willian, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard each converted from the spot as the Blues ran out 5-3 winners. Hazard’s dithering spot kick won the game as he stroked it into the bottom left corner with Angus Gunn diving in despair in the other direction.
Chelsea will face Newcastle at Stamford Bridge in the fourth round of the FA Cup but they will be without the suspended Pedro and Morata for their trip to Brighton on Saturday as they look to secure their first league win of 2018.