Doing it correctly at the first time of asking. Seizing the jugular. These are the Mourinho ways. Not giving it up in the final minutes of extra time, in a game that should have been long gone.
It is why this match was another reminder that the current Chelsea is not his, not ruthless enough to see off Sunderland in the 90 minutes of normal time that were completely dominated by his team. Instead, Sunderland found glory late – twice.
First through Fabio Borini, with two minutes of normal time remaining, and then, at the very death, in the 118th minute, when Ki Sung-yueng kept his composure to drill a shot into the bottom corner of the Chelsea goal and take Sunderland to the semi-final of the Capital One Cup.
That had seemed implausible for most of the night. But then Jose Mourinho’s team are not ruthless enough, not by half, and for that, unlike his in first season at Stamford Bridge, there will be no League Cup to parade.
Mourinho had made eight changes to the side which beat Crystal Palace on Saturday. The priority by some distance remains Monday’s trip to the Emirates in the Premier League. For all their season so far has felt inconsistent and thus un-Mourinho-like, Chelsea will go above Arsenal with victory. The opportunity certainly ranked higher in importance than a Capital One quarter-final at a sparsely populated Stadium of Light.
There is not much faith left on Wearside in the midst of a campaign in which Sunderland have had as many managers as league victories. They had a penalty appeal turned down just past the half hour when Andrea Dossena’s left-wing cross appeared to strike the elbow of Cesar Azpilicueta. It would have been harsh. It certainly would have been against the run of play, with Chelsea dominant but toothless.
By the 12th minute André Schürrle, Willian and Frank Lampard had all tried efforts that did little to test Vito Mannone in the Sunderland goal.
That was how the first half finished as well, although there was a suggestion of more purpose, certainly from Willian, who in the 36th minute ended up with the ball back at his feet after starting a move on the Chelsea right. From 25 yards his angled drive, with a cluster of players in front of Mannone, went wide. That was also how another Schürrle attempt at breaking the deadlock ended, with a shot that was likewise always heading wide.
The lead came from much closer range, just 40 seconds into the second half. Cesar Azpilicueta crossed deep from the right into the heart of the six-yard area. Lee Cattermole, in his attempt to prevent Frank Lampard from getting to the ball first, could only bundle it towards goal, and over the line, despite Mannone’s effort to hook it away. Cattermole was later credited with scoring the sixth goal Sunderland have put into their own net this season. Their top scorer Phil Bardsley, the right-back Paolo Di Canio tried to banish, has scored three.
At that point Chelsea should really have ended the contest. It was certainly not through lack of opportunity that they failed to do so. Samuel Eto’o, with the goal at his mercy, shot wide. The same striker had a deflected shot strike the side netting and Kevin de Bruyne brought a fine save from Mannone with an angled drive. Lampard then shot just over the crossbar from 25 yards. Schürrle was next.
Incredibly, Sunderland’s season of struggle would be given a glimmer of light in the 88th minute, when substitute Fabio Borini drilled a shot into Mark Schwarzer’s goal to take the game into extra time.
Man of the match Schürrle.
Match rating 5/10.
Referee A Taylor (Cheshire).
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