At this rate Jose Mourinho will be forgotten before Christmas. After Saturday's 6-0 demolition of Manchester City Roman Abramovich, and 40,000 fellow Stamford Bridge spectators, witnessed seven goals last night as the Carling Cup holders won an extraordinary fourth-round tie.
The difference was Chelsea had to share the first six goals with Leicester City, of the Championship, before snatching a winner four minutes into added time. Having trailed after six minutes the Carling Cup holders led from the 29th to the 69th, created chance after chance, yet found themselves behind with 16 minutes remaining.
In a finale so dramatic it provoked the respective benches into a bout of grappling, Andrei Shevchenko drew Chelsea level then Frank Lampard completed a poacher's hat-trick in the fourth minute of injury time during a crazy melee. As Chelsea celebrated the Leicester coach Gerry Taggert and his Chelsea counterpart Steve Clarke had to be separated. "I did not see it," claimed Avram Grant of the argy-bargy at the end, "but the important thing is we all shook hands afterwards."
"It's nothing really, you're just disappointed when the goal goes in after working so hard," said Frank Burrows, Leicester City's caretaker coach, even more disingenuously. Of the football Grant said: "I think everybody will have enjoyed it. We showed we had good character."
Grant had surprisingly abandoned the 4-3-3 system that had brought him five successive wins and the torrent of goals against City, switching to 4-4-2. It seemed this was to accommodate Shevchenko and Claudio Pizarro. Shevchenko may have scored at the weekend but such is his fall from grace he is now one of those players for whom the Carling Cup offers the chance of a start.
Leicester arrived searching for their third new manager of a traumatic season but that did not deter 6,500 very vocal fans from making the journey. They were swiftly rewarded as Leicester outwitted and startled their hosts. Instead of swinging a free-kick into the box Shaun Newton rolled it down the touchline. Matty Fryatt was first to the ball, turned Steve Sidwell and crossed for his unmarked captain Gareth McAuley to head in.
The travelling Foxes went nuts, and remained in good voice even after Lampard equalised. The England midfielder had had a forward run halted by Darren Kenton's firm tackle but he had got up and continued his run as the ball rolled to Juliano Belletti. The Brazilian crossed deep, Scott Sinclair nodded the ball back, and Lampard drove home.
Lampard, whatever one may think of his depressing conversion to the cult of celebrity, gives full commitment in every match and his knack of running beyond his man into the box paid further dividends nine minutes later. Again the provider was Sinclair, the teenager running on to Paulo Ferreira's headed pass before crossing low to the near post. The ball broke off a scrum of bodies for Lampard to steer into the net. Chelsea had to reshuffle when Paolo Ferreira suffered what looked a bad ankle injury. With no defenders on the bench Florent Malouda came on to play, impressively, at left-back.
Then Burrows made a brace of substitions for the visitors. Within minutes the first, Levi Porter, was allowed time to pick out the second, DJ Campbell, who had crept behind Tal Ben Haim. Campbell, who was playing for nearby Yeading a few years ago, calmly headed over goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini. Then Porter was felled by Belletti and Carl Cort stabbed in the free-kick.
Grant went to three at the back – including Malouda – and Chelsea poured forward. Four minutes from time Shevchenko, showing the benefits of his speed training, turned slickly to level. Leicester, remarkably, sought a winner but were done on the counter-attack. Martin Fulop, who was superb all night, denied Kalou, sparking a frantic melee in which Pizarro hit the bar, Lampard had a header cleared off the line, then Shevchenko's shot struck Belletti, and flew in. It transpired the goal had already been given, for Lampard's header.
"It's not often John Terry [who was on the sidelines, injured] runs on to the pitch and punches the air for a result against a Championship side," said Burrows. He added: "They were the better side, but our hearts were as big as theirs."
Chelsea (4-4-2): Cudicini; Belletti, Ben Haim (Essien 80), Alex, Ferreira (Malouda 52); Wright-Phillips, Lampard, Sidwell, Sinclair ( Kalou 78); Pizarro, Shevchenko. Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Mikel.
Leicester City (5-3-2): Fulop; Stearman, McAuley, N'Gotty, Kisnorbo, Sheehan; Newton (Porter 60, Maybury 80), Kenton, Chambers; Cort, Fryatt (Campbell 62). Substitutes not used: Henderson (gk), Hellings.
Referee: P Dowd (Staffs).Reuse content