After 14 minutes of extra time Vialli had gone down as if poleaxed by Blackburn's French defender Patrick Valery who was duly booked. But a minute later Chelsea's Italian striker appeared to lash out at Valery's Swiss team-mate Stephane Henchoz. After consulting his assistant, referee Burge had no hesitation in reaching for the red card, and Henchoz seemed to be sporting quite a bruise by the end.
"Stephane Henchoz is certainly no play-actor," his manager, Roy Hodgson, said. "He was concussed and I should have taken him off but we'd used all our substitutes and he was very brave to carry on."
The makeshift nature of the teams led somewhat inevitably to a disjointed spectacle for much of the first half, but the goal that was desperately needed to resuscitate proceedings arrived two minutes after the break, courtesy of Billy McKinlay's well-executed half-volley from the edge of the Chelsea area.
Chelsea equalised on the hour when Frank Leboeuf sprung Blackburn's offside trap with an exquisite pass, and Roberto Di Matteo had the simplest of tasks to steer the ball past the advancing Tim Flowers.
After Steven Hampshire had blazed over for Chelsea in extra time, Leboeuf, Frank Sinclair, Steve Clarke and Nicholls showed him the way in the shoot- out. Sutton and Lars Bohinen missed Blackburn's first two kicks and only Gary Croft was successful.
Gullit seemed happy enough with the win and a home draw against Southampton, but the news that Chelsea's Uruguayan international Gustavo Poyet is ruled out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury sustained in training was the second unwanted postscript to a strange evening at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea (4-4-2): Hitchcock; Clarke, Leboeuf, Gullit ( Lee, h-t), Granville; Nicholls, Newton (Sinclair, 78), Di Matteo, Babayaro; Vialli, Hughes (Hampshire, 61).
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Valery, Hendry (Henchoz, 87), Pedersen, Croft; Andersson, Flitcroft, McKinlay, Duff; Sutton, Dahlin. Substitutes not used: Sherwood, Bohinen.
Referee: K Burge (Mid Glamorgan).Reuse content