Shrewsbury Town vs Chelsea match report: Dismay for Shrews as Jermaine Grandison own goal puts Blues into last eight of League Cup

Shrewsbury Town 1 Chelsea 2: League Two side run Premier League leaders close with spirited performance

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The Independent Online

Chelsea weathered a storming effort from League Two Shrewsbury to make their way into the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup, maintaining their unbeaten record across all competitions despite a raft of changes from the side denied by Robin van Persie’s late equaliser at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho’s side looked ready to progress comfortably when Didier Drogba  put them ahead three minutes into the second half but Micky Mellon’s team, 72 places below Chelsea in the league ladder, clawed their way back when Andy Mangan equalised with 13 minutes left.

There would be no fairytale, though. No sooner had the home crowd drawn breath after loudly celebrating their side’s well-deserved reward than Chelsea were back in front as substitute Willian’s cross found its way into the net off the head of defender Jermaine Grandison.

With suspensions and injuries eating into his squad even before he considered who might benefit from a rest, Mourinho had dipped into his reserves for some less familiar names, with Kurt Zouma teamed with Gary Cahill in central defence, Nathan Aké alongside John Obi Mikel as the two deeper midfielders and Mohamed Saleh on the right of the trio supporting Didier Drogba. Andreas Christensen made his debut at right-back.

Shrewsbury, having seen off three Championship sides already, did not lack self-belief, gaining early encouragement when Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro’s header forced Petr Cech into a scrambling save. It was a test of Chelsea’s composure and Aké, the 19-year-old Dutchman, lost his for a moment when he brought down Bobby Grant, a challenge that earned the teenager a caution.

The home side were well organised and Chelsea did not look a real threat until Drogba launched a breakaway attack with a clearance from deep in his own half that sent Saleh away. The Egyptian then found André Schürrle on the left only for the German to pass up the chance to shoot in favour of a ball back into the box that was easily cleared.

Shrewsbury walked off at half-time to generous applause, yet Mourinho’s side were ahead within three minutes as Salah, from Schürrle’s pass, played a neat ball in for Drogba to sweep past Jayson Leutwiler for his third goal in as many matches.

Shrewsbury mounted a positive response and would have been level had Nathaniel Knight-Percival’s deflected shot spun inside rather than outside the right-hand post, although it would have been tough on Cech, who was hopelessly wrong-footed. Drogba’s appetite on his third appearance in eight days had to be commended.  Chelsea needed a second goal before they could begin to relax and, though Leutwiler had to stretch to help a long-range effort from Schürrle over the bar, if anyone was going to score it then Drogba looked the most likely.

Instead, Shrewsbury came up with an equaliser, a just reward for their refusal to let the Premier League leaders dictate.  From Liam Lawrence’s corner, Grandison’s header reached Mangan, on the field only a couple of minutes as the home side’s second substitute, who swept it gleefully past Cech.

Mourinho’s response was to send on two of his battalion on the bench, replacing Salah and Obi Mikel with Willian and Nemanja Matic and within moments Chelsea were ahead again as Willian’s cross, aimed at Drogba, was turned into his own net by Grandison.

Man of the match Drogba.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee N Swarbrick (Lancashire).

Attendance 10,201.

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